Dog sledging in Greenland. Photo by Ramon Stoppelenburg.

Seven Countries That Don’t Really Exist

You want to really go off the beaten track? I have found these seven “countries” that are not officially recognized to add to your bucket list. Would they actually provide a passport stamp?


You would not expect it, but immense Greenland is part of Denmark. Only in 2009 did the island to the east of the Canadian Arctic Islands get autonomy and Greenlandic was recognized as the official language. It is therefore possible that Greenland will become independent not too long from now.

Dog sledging in Greenland. Photo by Ramon Stoppelenburg.


This little island is located in the Indian Ocean, became independent from France in 1975 and officially belongs to the Comoros. Still, Mayotte decided to remain under the influence of the government in Paris, some little 8,000 kilometers away. Thus this island continued to exist as a tiny piece of Europe. The local currency is the Euro.


Once upon a time, Tuva, an big area north of Mongolia, was an independent country. Until Russia knocked on the door in the 30s and 40s. Tuva gave in and offered herself to Russia. Today, the area is part of South Siberia. The inhabitants kept their own customs and rituals, like the traditional throat singing.

Ivan Boiko


The Tibet Autonomous Region is located in China and borders Bhutan, Nepal, India and Myanmar. Tibet has been officially under Chinese rule since 1959. The Tibetans, however, believe that the region must be independent. The result: a quarrel between the Chinese and the Tibetans for nearly 60 years.

Forewick Holm

Where: Shetland Islands. Surface: 0.01 square kilometers. Number of inhabitants: 1. Stuart Hill arrived in the island of Forewick Holm near Scotland with his rowing boat in 2008, after being berthed at sea. He decided to stay and started a campaign to make the small piece of land autonomous – a British crown colony – under the name Forewick Holm. He has not succeeded so far.


This kingdom includes an area bordering Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Angola. The area was colonized by England, but had to become part of Zambia in the early 1960s. With the condition that Barotseland could remain autonomous. Nothing came of that deal.


This region in the north of the state of Arizona in the U.S. is originally the habitat of the Navajo Indians. It is therefore also called Navajo Nation. Since 1975, the inhabitants of Dinétah have a little autonomy. This self-determination does come at a price: almost 50 percent of the residents do not have a job. Electricity and running water is a luxury.

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