In the Old Days, one country would conquer another and add it to its empire. What was the most recent country to be conquered and cease to exist as a country?

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    Ask again in a while and the answer might be Ukraine... :( – Felix Goldberg May 21 '14 at 12:59
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    You probably need to clarify your definition of "country". Otherwise all those single-village "separatist movements" will compete to be the latest ones. Like "what was the most recent UN member nation to be conquered and cease to exist as a country". And what does "counquered and cease to exist as a country" exactly means? Would Kuwait annexation count? Yes, it has been detached back, but only after a while, and then, which former member of an empire has not been? – horsh May 21 '14 at 23:30
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    ... and what do you count for "the most recent"? The initiation of the military action (like Queen Liliʻuokalani overthrow, 1893) or the complete de-jure inclusion (Hawaii Admission Act, 1959). That's 66 year long conquer action. – horsh May 21 '14 at 23:45
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    @horsh as far as I could tell no UN member nation has been "conquered and ceased to exist as a country" (though of course there have been foreign-induced regime changes). I now looked at the member states of the League of Nations and all of these also appear to exist in some form today. – Jørgen May 22 '14 at 7:22
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    A problem perhaps with this question is that their is no real answer, because well now and then that country might change, how does one decide which answer to accept? – Willem Van Onsem Jan 28 '15 at 1:58

One candidate for "last widely recognized country to be conquered" would be South Vietnam. From the Wikipedia article:

Despite a peace treaty concluded in January 1973, fighting continued until the North Vietnamese army overran Saigon on 30 April 1975.


Its sovereignty was recognized by the United States and by some eighty-seven other nations. It had membership in several special committees of the United Nations, and would have been a member of the United Nations itself had it not been for a Soviet veto in 1957

I started my search by looking at Wikipedia's list of former United Nations members. Of these, some are countries that ceased to be members because they were absorbed by other countries:

  • East Germany (became part of West Germany; peaceful transition)
  • Tanganyika and Zanzibar (apparently peaceful)
  • Formation of Malaysia (apparently peaceful, or in any case formed from colonies that were not independent until absorbed)
  • North and South Yemen (apparently peaceful)

A reference to North/South Vietnam in the Yemen article got me to think about South Vietnam, which is perhaps an obvious answer to the question. There might be other, non-recognized states: I can think of Biafra, independent from 1967 to 1970 (so in any case earlier than South Vietnam).

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    Zanzibar was only really peaceful after 20,000 muslims were massacred. – Clint Eastwood May 21 '14 at 14:54
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    @ClintEastwood sorry, perhaps bad phrasing by me: my point was just that Zanzibar+Tanganyika=Tanzania can probably not be termed a "conquest" and that (as far as I know) the merger itself was peaceful, even though atrocities occurred earlier in the process. In any case, feel free to let me know if "South Vietnam" does not answer your question. – Jørgen May 22 '14 at 7:19
  • Now that the East Timor situation has been described, South Vietnam is the best answer. – Clint Eastwood May 22 '14 at 21:57
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    The Malaysian states have a fairly high degree of autonomy. Several of them are sultanates with royal families that has legislative powers. 2 of the states can set their own immigration policy. Singapore was briefly a member until ejected from the federation. So I'm not sure to what degree Malaysian states would count as having disappeared when it's more akin to the UK idea of Countries within Countries than the American idea that federal law trumps state law and secession isn't possible. Or in our case Norway still existed while in a (forced, sorry about that) union with Sweden. – Kit Sunde Jul 13 '15 at 23:56

Kuwait was invaded in November 1990 by Iraq, and the Iraqis weren't ejected until February 1991; thus Kuwait ceased to exist for about six months.

It can be argued that Kuwait had a government in exile during that time; but supposedly, South Vietnam still has a government in exile.


In terms of "empire" conquering that has had significant cultural effect, meaning a large change in the ethnic or linguistic nature of a large area of land the biggest changes in the last 100 years:

  • Elimination of Prussia (1945-1948)
  • Elimination of Manchuria (1930s)
  • Collapse of the French empire in West Africa
  • Collapse of the British empire in Africa, India and Southeast Asia
  • Creation of Pakistan, Burma and Thailand
  • Elimination of Austro-Hungarian Empire and creation of Czechoslovakia, Croatia, Slovenia and Hungary
  • Collapse of Ottoman empire, creation of Israel, Iraq, Syria and Kuwait

The most recent significant area to be "conquered" and absorbed by another country is the Crimean peninsula, conquered and annexed by the Russia Federation this year. The most recent time an entire "country" has been conquered and annexed militarily by another country was the de facto annexation of Republic of Chechnya in 2009.

  • I'm not looking for largest, I'm looking for most recent. – Clint Eastwood May 21 '14 at 15:03
  • @ClintEastwood I have answered that question in an update above. – Tyler Durden May 21 '14 at 16:46
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    Crimea has declared its independence, March 11. So technically it can be considered an independent state "Republic of Crimea", existed for 10 days. That's not better or worse than the same separatist kind of "country" as "Republic of Chechnya". Unless there is a good formal ciriteria for what's a "country", in the original question this is all moot. – horsh May 21 '14 at 23:52
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    I'm not sure I understand why Tibet has not be mentioned? – CGCampbell May 23 '14 at 14:13
  • Chechnya was never a country and was never annexed, it always was part of Russian Federation. – Anixx Sep 17 '16 at 13:57

Arguably, Western Sahara could also fall in this definition. It was decolonized from Spanish rule in 1975 and soon after been occupied by Morocco and Mauritania. Later on Mauritania retreated and Morocco took over most of the land leaving a small territory in the hands of the Polisario Front, a western Sahara's people guerilla movement.

So, this is not a clear cut case as Western Sahara wasn't a sovereign state and it has not completely vanished but it's recent and fairly close to what you're asking. Maybe even more than South Vietnam.


Since some people did not like my last answer I will reformulate it. The German Democratic Republic was a member of the United Nations and was recognised by most countries in the world, including the USA. In 1990 it disappeared from the map and was incorporated into the Federal Republic of Germany. It was not conquered militarily by West Germany, but it was annexed by it.

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    The GDR was not annexed. It joined the FRG based on a decision made by its democratically elected government. – Michael Borgwardt May 25 '14 at 19:31
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    Yes, just like Austria in 1938. – fdb May 25 '14 at 20:50
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    If you have any information about military threats made against the GDR to influence the decision, I'm all ears. Otherwise, I suggest you inform yourself before spouting nonsense. – Michael Borgwardt May 25 '14 at 20:59
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    I said nothing about military threats. I did say that the SU was on the verge of economic collapse and that Kohl bailed Gorbachov out in return for handing over the GDR. – fdb May 25 '14 at 21:06
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    So not like Austria after all. Besides, the fact that economic help was given to the SU in exchange for their support of (rather than opposition to) the German reunification has absolutely nothing to do with the legitimacy of the decision of the GDR's government and people to implement it. In an ideal world, Gorbachov's approval would not even have been necessary. – Michael Borgwardt May 25 '14 at 21:35

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