What Was The Minimum for Sovereign States?

Sovereign States:

Decline from 1913 to 1916.  Rise from 1916 to 1919.

At the dawn of the 20th century, the number of sovereign states in the world was at an all-time low.  This was after the conquest of most independent Africa – only 10 percent of it was under European control in 1870.   And before the emergence of many new states within Europe after World War One.  It had begun much earlier in the Balkans, and the term ‘Balkanisation’ came to be used for it.  But up to

An exact count of sovereign states would be tricky.  There are many issues:

  • Do you count independent traditional states and tribes in territories not carved by between European empires? But also not admitted to the network of mostly-European diplomacy, as some were.
  • Do you count traditional states still functionally independent in land that had been carved up by European empires?
  • Do you count them if Europe’s empires had taken ‘zones of influence’, as happened in China, but there was still a functionally independent state? (Britons were greatly shocked when the Chinese Communists dared fire on British warships that were sailing up the Yangtze in the heart of China, in defiance of a warning that this was no longer allowed.)
  • How do you count quasi-independent states within traditional Empires? The Principality of Bulgaria existed from 1878 to 1908 as a nominal vassal of the fading Ottoman Empire.
  • How do you count nominally independent countries that were functionally part of wider empires? Egypt in 1900 was also a nominal Ottoman vassal.  It had previously been functionally independent.  But by 1914 it was dominated by the British Empire.  It was marked as part of it by most maps.

The best source I could find was on the Wiki, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_sovereign_states_by_year.  An imperfect source, and one which says “under construction”.  But it was also impartial, and did at least have lists one could count.  Using the lists for each year and counting only states listed as definitely sovereign, I found 118 independent state for 1870.   88 for 1890.  77 for 1900.  65 for 1910.  56 for 1913, if the five Dominions of the British Empire do not count.

Based on, but never including the Dominions within the British Empire.  Otherwise I show what is listed as at 6th November 2017.  Note that neither the short-lived Irish Republic in 1916 is not listed.

The Sultanate of Sulu lost sovereignty in 1915.  It is not shown for 1913, but should have been, meaning that the total for that year should be 57.

1915 also saw Luxembourg occupied by Germany, and the Wiki lists it as no longer entirely sovereign.

The Kingdom of Hejaz has been added for 1915.  It arose from a rebellion against the Ottoman Empire, was supported by the British Empire but was later conquered by Saudi Arabia.  It probably should not be shown until 1916.

For 1916, Albania, Montenegro and Serbia were occupied, while Luxemburg was still occupied.  The Emirate of Asir has been added.  It too arose from a rebellion against the Ottoman Empire, was supported by the British Empire but was later conquered by Saudi Arabia.

If you still count sovereign and occupied states as existing, but do not view states rebelling against the Ottoman Empire as established until after the war, the minimum would be 56 in 1915 after the Sultanate of Sulu’s loss of sovereignty.  It was also likely by then that whoever won, the post-war world would see more sovereign state.  By 1915, both sides had begun using independence movements against the other.

Decline from 1913      
1913 – 56 1914 -57 1915 – 56 1916 – 54
Albania Albania Albania
Andorra Andorra Andorra Andorra
Argentina Argentina Argentina Argentina
Asir – Emirate of Asir
Austria-Hungary Austria-Hungary Austria-Hungary Austria-Hungary
Belgium Belgium Belgium Belgium
Bolivia Bolivia Bolivia Bolivia
Brazil Brazil Brazil Brazil
Bulgaria Bulgaria Bulgaria Bulgaria
Chile Chile Chile Chile
China China China China
Colombia Colombia Colombia Colombia
Costa Rica Costa Rica Costa Rica Costa Rica
Cuba Cuba Cuba Cuba
Denmark Denmark Denmark Denmark
Dominican Republic Dominican Republic Dominican Republic Dominican Republic
Ecuador Ecuador Ecuador Ecuador
El Salvador El Salvador El Salvador El Salvador
Ethiopia Ethiopia Ethiopia Ethiopia
France France France France
Germany Germany Germany Germany
Greece Greece Greece Greece
Guatemala Guatemala Guatemala Guatemala
Ha’il – Emirate of Ha’il Ha’il – Emirate of Ha’il Ha’il – Emirate of Ha’il Ha’il – Emirate of Ha’il
Haiti Haiti Haiti Haiti
Hejaz – Kingdom of Hejaz Hejaz – Kingdom of Hejaz
Honduras Honduras Honduras Honduras
Italy Italy Italy Italy
Japan Japan Japan Japan
Liberia Liberia Liberia Liberia
Liechtenstein Liechtenstein Liechtenstein Liechtenstein
 Luxembourg Luxembourg
Mexico Mexico Mexico Mexico
Monaco Monaco Monaco Monaco
Montenegro Montenegro Montenegro
Nejd – Emirate of Nejd Nejd – Emirate of Nejd Nejd – Emirate of Nejd Nejd – Emirate of Nejd
Nepal – Kingdom of Nepal Nepal – Kingdom of Nepal Nepal – Kingdom of Nepal Nepal – Kingdom of Nepal
Netherlands Netherlands Netherlands Netherlands
Nicaragua Nicaragua Nicaragua Nicaragua
Norway Norway Norway Norway
Ottoman Empire Ottoman Empire Ottoman Empire Ottoman Empire
Panama Panama Panama Panama
Paraguay Paraguay Paraguay Paraguay
Persia Persia Persia Persia
Peru Peru Peru Peru
Portuguese Republic Portuguese Republic Portuguese Republic Portuguese Republic
Panama Panama Panama Panama
Romania Romania Romania Romania
Russian Empire Russian Empire Russian Empire Russian Empire
San Marino San Marino San Marino San Marino
Serbia Serbia Serbia
Siam (now Thailand) Siam (now Thailand) Siam (now Thailand) Siam (now Thailand)
Spain Spain Spain Spain
Sweden Sweden Sweden Sweden
Sulu – Sultanate of Sulu Sulu – Sultanate of Sulu
Swiss Confederation Swiss Confederation Swiss Confederation Swiss Confederation
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
United States of America United States of America United States of America United States of America
Uruguay Uruguay Uruguay Uruguay
Venezuela Venezuela Venezuela Venezuela

 

Albania, Montenegro and Serbia were occupied in 1916.  Luxemburg was still occupied.  But after the two Russian Revolutions in 1917, there were nine insurgencies against Russia in 1917, including Finland and Poland.  The Wiki lists some of these as sovereign states for 1918, others for 1919 and still others not at all.  A topic on which there are strong rival opinions, obviously.  I merely show what the Wiki shows.

Transcaucasia was a short-lived union of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.  I would not have listed it.

Note that the 1919-22 Irish Republic is not listed.  Another controversial topic.  If I were choosing who to list, they would be there.

I cannot see why Afghanistan is only listed from 1919.  It had successfully resisted several invasions by the British Empire.

Rise from 1916
1916 – 54 1917 – 54 1918 – 65 1919 – 69
Afghanistan
Albania
Andorra Andorra Andorra Andorra
Argentina Argentina Argentina Argentina
Armenia Armenia
Asir – Emirate of Asir Asir – Emirate of Asir Asir – Emirate of Asir Asir – Emirate of Asir
Armenian Republic
Austria-Hungary Austria-Hungary Austria-Hungary Austria
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan
Belgium Belgium Belgium Belgium
Bolivia Bolivia Bolivia Bolivia
Brazil Brazil Brazil Brazil
Chile Chile Chile Chile
China China China China
Colombia Colombia Colombia Colombia
Costa Rica Costa Rica Costa Rica Costa Rica
Cuba Cuba Cuba Cuba
Czechoslovakia Czechoslovakia
Denmark Denmark Denmark Denmark
Dominican Republic Dominican Republic Dominican Republic Dominican Republic
Ecuador Ecuador Ecuador Ecuador
El Salvador El Salvador El Salvador El Salvador
Estonia Estonia
Ethiopia Ethiopia Ethiopia Ethiopia
Finland
France France France France
Georgia Georgia
Germany Germany Germany Germany
Greece Greece Greece Greece
Guatemala Guatemala Guatemala Guatemala
Ha’il – Emirate of Ha’il Ha’il – Emirate of Ha’il Ha’il – Emirate of Ha’il Ha’il – Emirate of Ha’il
Haiti – Republic of Haiti Haiti – Republic of Haiti Haiti – Republic of Haiti Haiti – Republic of Haiti
Hejaz – Kingdom of Hejaz Hejaz – Kingdom of Hejaz Hejaz – Kingdom of Hejaz Hejaz – Kingdom of Hejaz
Honduras Honduras Honduras Honduras
Hungary Hungary
Italy Italy Italy Italy
Japan Japan Japan Japan
Latvia Latvia
Liberia Liberia Liberia Liberia
Liechtenstein Liechtenstein Liechtenstein Liechtenstein
Lithuania Lithuania
Mexico Mexico Mexico Mexico
Monaco Monaco Monaco Monaco
Nejd – Emirate of Nejd Nejd – Emirate of Nejd
Nepal Nepal Nepal Nepal
Netherlands Netherlands Netherlands Netherlands
Nicaragua Nicaragua Nicaragua Nicaragua
Norway Norway Norway Norway
Panama Panama Panama Panama
Paraguay Paraguay Paraguay Paraguay
Persia Persia Persia Persia
Peru Peru Peru Peru
Poland Poland
Portugal Portugal Portugal Portugal
Romania Romania Romania Romania
Russia Russia Russia Russia
San Marino San Marino San Marino San Marino
Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Kingdom) Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Kingdom)
Siam (now Thailand) Siam (now Thailand) Siam (now Thailand) Siam (now Thailand)
Spain Spain Spain Spain
Sweden Sweden Sweden Sweden
Swiss Confederation Swiss Confederation Swiss Confederation Swiss Confederation
Turkey – Sublime Ottoman State Turkey – Sublime Ottoman State Turkey – Sublime Ottoman State Turkey – Sublime Ottoman State
Transcaucasia
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
United States of America United States of America United States of America United States of America
Uruguay Uruguay Uruguay Uruguay
Venezuela Venezuela Venezuela Venezuela
Yemen Yemen

I did also wonder, did it get knocked down again when Hitler overran much of Europe?  I checked for 1943 and got a total of 56 in you exclude the Dominions within the British Empire.  But by then, Australia etc. had established extra rights and 60 would be more accurate.

Copyright ©Gwydion M. Williams.  Monday, 06 November 2017.
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