- List of sovereign states by formation date
Below is a list of countries by formation dates, sorted by continent.
Nation-buildingis a long evolutionary process. It is therefore practically impossible to come up with a single date for a nation's "birth". However, most nations have accepted some dates in their respective histories as their symbolic starting points. This is usually done more for nationalistic propagandathan for scientificreasons. For many ancientand medievalnations these starting points are usually the dates when a nation was mentioned in a written document for the first time or simply a date from their national mythology. In Europe, this often coincides with the ruler's conversion to Christianity. For post-colonial nations, starting with the United States, the beginning of statehood is usually considered to be the date when independencewas declared, granted and/or recognised.
Independence dates earlier than 1919 should be treated with caution, since prior to the founding of the
League of Nations, there was no international body to recognise nationhood, and independence had no meaning beyond mutual recognition of de facto sovereigns (the role of the League of Nations was effectively taken over by the United Nationsafter the Second World War). See also: disputed territories.
The situation is further complicated by the confusion between two terms commonly used as synonym:
nation(generally considered an ethnic or cultural grouping) and state(an independent political entity). Taking this into account a declaration of being the "oldest country" in the world is not fruitful and will inevitably be disputed. The following list contains the formation dates of countries with a short description of those events. For a more detailed desription of a country's formation and history please see the main article for each country.
Timeline of country and capital changes
List of countries by continent
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