How The World Map Has Changed In 100 Years (Since WWI)

How The World Map Has Changed In 100 Years (Since WWI)
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    November 11, 2018. Today marks the 100 year anniversary of the end of the First World
    War. Observed as Remembrance Day, Veterans Day, and Armistice Day, the "eleventh hour
    of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918 was when the armistice agreement which
    put an end to the hostilities of WWI came into effect.
    WWI was a transformative event in human history - and it wasn't the only one. The last century
    in particular is full of major events that have changed, over and over again, the geopolitical
    structure of our world. So how exactly has the world map changed in those hundred years?
    I've decided that the best way to do this is by region, so starting with Europe...ish,
    then moving onto Africa, the Middle East, the rest of Asia, and finally the rest of
    the world, which didn't really have many changes.
    Now this isn't going to be a 100% exhaustive list, but I've tried to be as thorough as
    possible. For obvious reasons, much of the context behind the border changes has been
    slightly oversimplified or left out entirely... but I don't want to make this video any
    longer than it has to be, so let's just get started!
    ...on the very day of the armistice, Poland was re-established as an independent nation
    after 123 years of being ruled by the German, Austrian, and Russian Empires. Just a week
    later, nearby Latvia declared its independence from Soviet Russia, following in the footsteps
    of the two other Baltic states who had done the same back in February.
    Down in the Balkans, a new state was created, partly from the remnants of Austria-Hungary,
    the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, although you probably know it as "Yugoslavia"
    - its name was changed in 1929. Meanwhile, neighboring Romania was significantly expanded,
    with their union with Transylvania and neighbouring provinces, which had also been part of Austria-Hungary.
    A century later and December 1st is still celebrated as their Great Union Day.
    On the very same day, Iceland gained its independence from Denmark, entering into a personal union
    with them but with full sovereignty. Although Iceland actually celebrates its independence
    on June the 17th, when it became its own republic.
    Moving onto 1919, and it was this year in which the Treaty of Versailles was signed,
    the main post-war peace treaty which officially ended the state of war between Germany and
    the Allied Powers. The treaty dramatically altered the national borders of Germany, and
    Europe as a whole. Germany de facto became a republic following the Kaiser's abdication.
    Eupen and Malmedy were ceded to Belgium, today making up the German-speaking community which
    comprises 0.7% of the population; France was ceded Alsace-Lorraine, which had been a thorn
    in Franco-German relations for literally centuries; and Poland was ceded most of Posen and West
    Additionally, the Saar Basin and the Memel territory were both placed under Allied administration;
    while the city of Danzig was placed under League of Nations protection as the Free City
    of Danzig.
    The Treaty of Versailles called for plebiscites to be held in both Schleswig-Holstein, and
    Upper Silesia. In the former, the north chose to join Denmark while the south voted to stay
    part of Germany. The latter became complicated by disagreements and led to Polish uprisings.
    The territory was eventually divided by the League of Nations.
    As well as the Treaty of Versailles, the lesser-known treaties with the other Central Powers were
    signed shortly afterwards. In the Treaties with Austria and then Hungary, the Austro-Hungarian
    Empire was officially declared dissolved. Imperial territory was ceded to Poland, Czechoslovakia,
    Italy, and Yugoslavia.
    In another post-war treaty, concluded by Bulgaria and the Allies, territory was ceded to 3 of
    its neighbours, most notably a large part of Western Thrace, which was actually ceded
    to the Triple Entente and later awarded to Greece.
    The final peace treaty, the Treaty of Sèvres, signed on 10 August 1920, began the process
    of the partition of the Ottoman Empire. In Europe, Eastern Thrace and part of Anatolia
    were ceded to Greece. However, things were complicated by the Turkish War of Independence,
    and the treaty was never ratified.
    Now in the Baltics, WWI hostilities never really came to an end. Lithuania fought three
    wars to maintain its independence. The third of which, against Poland, it lost its capital
    city, Vilnius, and surrounding territory.
    In 1921, the Peace of Riga put an end to the Polish-Soviet War. Territory of the Soviet
    Republics of Belarus and Ukraine were ceded to Poland, capping off Polish post-war expansion.
    Now speaking of Soviet republics, ever since the Russian Revolution in 1917 and preceding
    civil war, the rise of Communism had a profound impact on not just Eastern Europe, but far
    beyond. 1922 was the year in which the Soviet Union was established, after several countries
    had became Soviet states in the previous 5 years. At its inception, the Soviet Union
    was comprised of just 6 republics: Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and
    Georgia, the latter 3 of which were grouped in the Transcaucasian SFSR.
    1922 was also the year in which the Ottoman Empire was finally, officially dissolved,
    when the Sultanate was abolished in November after the Turkish nationalists decisively
    won their war for independence. This new nationalist government was responsible for a number of
    border changes, including the Treaty of Kars with Russia and the aforementioned Transcaucasian
    Soviet republics. Both Georgia and Armenia ceded territory to Turkey, defining the frontiers
    which still exist to this day.
    In addition, the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 superseded the unratified Treaty of Sèvres,
    reversing the territorial concessions to Greece in 1920. The Republic of Turkey was founded
    3 months after the signing of the treaty, as the country took on its modern form. This
    finally wrapped up the loose ends still hanging over from WWI, as Europe settled into a brief
    period of peace.
    There was one other change during this time that was not directly related to WWI, and
    that was Ireland fighting for its independence after the war. As a result, they were granted
    dominion status in 1922 as the Irish Free State. They became their own independent republic
    15 years later.
    1933 is where the build up to WWII began, with the Nazi party taking control of Germany.
    In 1935, Saar was annexed by Nazi Germany, as the 15-year mandate came to an end. Over
    90% of its citizens voted in a favour of reunification with Germany in a referendum on its territorial
    In 1938, Austria was annexed by Germany as Adolf Hitler pursued his dream of a Greater
    Germany. This had been explicitly forbidden by article 80 of the Treaty of Versailles.
    Later in the same year, the "Sudetenland" of Czechoslovakia was also annexed by Nazi
    Germany in the Munich Agreement. The rest of Czechoslovakia was partitioned shortly
    afterwards in the 'First Vienna Award'.
    In August of 1939, Hitler and Stalin signed a pact of nonaggression, and both Germany
    and the USSR proceeded to invade Poland from both sides. This sparked the beginning of
    the Second World War. In addition to invading Poland, the Soviets also invaded and occupied
    the Baltics, which, unlike most of what happened in WWII, was not reversed afterwards.
    Now, there were obviously many international border changes during WWII, but for the most
    part be the can described as temporary occupations. Since they were all effectively reversed or
    disregarded after the war, I'm going skip right ahead to 1945.
    In the aftermath of the war, Nazi Germany collapsed, and lost a significant portion
    of its pre-1938 territory. The annexations of Austria and Czechoslovakia were also reversed.
    Most of its lost territory was ceded to the newly re-established Poland, which had its
    borders completely redrawn, losing a lot of its pre-war eastern territory to the Soviets.
    Soviet Russia annexed the German city of Konigsberg and surrounding lands, which remain a Russian
    exclave to this day, as the Kaliningrad Oblast. The Soviets also gained some territory from
    Czechoslovakia and Romania.
    What remained of Germany was split up into 4 different occupation zones by the Allied
    Powers of Britain, France, the US, and the Soviets. Plus the Saar Protectorate, which
    was a little bit different. In Austria it was a pretty similar situation, as it also
    became divided among the victors of the war.
    Although also part of the Axis Powers, Italy's borders were almost unchanged, with just a
    minor cession of land to the re-established country of Yugoslavia, now a socialist federal
    republic, made up of 6 constitute states.
    The post WWI period was dominated by the rise of communism. The post-WWII era was dominated
    by its containment, primarily by the United States. This began the Cold War, and decades
    of tension between east and west. The first major breakdown in relations happened in 1949,
    as two separate German states were established.
    Europe entered a period of tense stability, as there were no further changes to the European
    map for several years.The next major change happened in 1955, when Austria finally became
    an independent country, as the Allied occupation ended, an entire decade after the end of WWII.
    In addition, the Saar Protectorate became the Saarland state of West Germany in 1957,
    after yet another referendum affirmed the people's wish to be part of Germany.
    For the next 3 decades, there were no major changes in Europe… with the exception of
    one country: Cyprus. Cyprus gained its independence from the UK in 1960, but inter-ethnic conflict
    between the Greeks and Turks of the island, caused a UN peacekeeping mission to be deployed
    in 1964. A Greek-organised coup in 1974 led to an invasion of the island by Turkey, who
    went on to occupy a huge portion of the island. In 1983, the Turkish Republic of Northern
    Cyprus was proclaimed, and the dispute remains unsettled to this day.
    The Cold War came to an end in the late 1980s, as communism began to fall. The Berlin Wall
    came down in 1989, coinciding with several other anti-communist revolutions in the same
    year. Germany was officially reunified in 1990, as East Germany was dissolved and joined
    West Germany.
    The three Baltic nations declared their independence from the Soviet Union in 1990, and the very
    next year the entire Union itself was dissolved, with 15 separate countries gaining their independence
    - although there were no actual border changes outside of those that had taken place within
    the Soviet Union internally.
    Over in the Balkans, also affected by the fall of communism, the states of Yugoslavia
    were at war with each other. Croatia and Slovenia, and later Macedonia, declared their independence
    from Yugoslavia. This was followed by Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992, although they adopted
    a new constitution at the end of the Bosnian War.
    Also in 1992, Abkhazia and South Ossetia both declared themselves independent from Georgia,
    and are still unrecognised states to this day.
    In the following year, Czechoslovakia was split into two independent countries: the
    Czech Republic, and Slovakia.
    Going back to Yugoslavia, who changed their name to Serbia and Montenegro in 2003… since
    they were the only two countries left… but in 2006, Montenegro also left, as they both
    became their own independent countries.
    In 2008, Kosovo, an autonomous province of Serbia, declared its independence, after fighting
    a war against Serbia with the help of NATO in the late 1990s, and gaining de facto control
    over the region. The international community is split on the issue of Kosovo independence.
    The most recent change that has happened in Europe was in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea,
    following an internationally unrecognised plebiscite. The territory had been transferred
    to Ukraine from Russia in 1954 when both countries were soviet republics.
    Now moving onto Africa, a continent which had been carved up by the various European
    powers towards the end of the previous century, after an extended period of colonisation,
    known as the Scramble for Africa. Only two countries in Africa had remained outside of
    European colonial rule: Ethiopia and Liberia.
    Overall, borders changed a lot less in Africa than they did in Europe, at least until after
    WWII. The first major change in post-WWI Africa was the transfer of the Germany's colonies
    - to Britain, France, Belgium, and the recently independent South Africa.
    Fast forward to 1922, and the independence of Egypt. As far as independence declarations
    go though, this one was kind of backwards… the British unilaterally declared Egypt independent
    by terminating their protectorate over them.
    In the following year, the city of Tangier became an 'International Free Zone' after
    having been under Spanish rule, and in 1924, Britain ceded a portion of Jubaland to Italy,
    as compensation for Italy not receiving any of Germany's colonies after WWI.
    Even more land was acquired by Italy, in an agreement with the British and Egypt. This
    time, Libya received land from Sudan, establishing what remains the common border between the
    independent nations to the present day.
    In the lead up to WWII, Italy launched an invasion against the Ethiopian Empire in 1935,
    annexing it in the following year and forming Italian East Africa by merging it with their
    other Horn of Africa possessions. The occupation would last until 1941, when the country was
    liberated, as the local forces were supported by British and French troops.
    At the end of WWII, the Allies weren't really sure what to do with Italy's colonies, which
    were initially placed under British and French control, with Libya actually being temporarily
    split between the two.
    In 1949, Italian Somalia was returned to Italian administration as a UN "Trust Territory",
    with the provision that it receive independence within 10 years. Libya gained its independence
    from British and French administration in 1951, and Eritrea became part of Ethiopia
    in 1952.
    The independence of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan in 1956 marked the beginning of decolonisation
    in Africa, as one by one the various European colonies on the continent were granted their
    independence. Some colonies fought for their independence, while others were granted it
    peacefully due to international pressure and economic factors. Over the next two decades,
    the African continent began to take its modern form.
    Most of the newly-independent countries maintained their colonial borders, but there are a few
    special cases. Take Somalia, for example, which was created in 1960 by merging British
    Somaliland with the now-expired Trust Territory of Italian Somalia.
    On the other side of Africa, the British territory of Tanganyika was merged with the close-by
    archipelago Zanzibar, forming the country of Tanzania in 1964.
    And finally, there was a dispute over the decolonisation of Spanish Sahara. Morocco
    claimed it as their own, while a local guerilla organisation declared their independence in
    1976 as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.
    The situation with Southern Rhodesia (the modern-day country of Zimbabwe) was also a
    little bit complicated. Its independence was declared in 1965, in what was actually the
    first unilateral declaration of independence from the British since the United States....
    but it wasn't not recognised until as late 1980.
    After the decolonisation of Africa was completed there were few changes to the continent between
    then and now. There were still 3 more countries that gained their independence, but not from
    the Europeans.
    In 1990, what used to be the German colony of South West Africa, gained its independence
    from South Africa, as the country of Namibia. 3 years later, Eritrea gained its independence
    from Ethiopia.
    And finally, we reach 2011, and the newest internationally recognised country in the
    world: South Sudan. South Sudan was admitted to the UN as its 193rd member, as a referendum
    showed nearly 99% support for independence. Although overall, their independence was far
    from peaceful. Two bloody civil wars spanning half a century were fought between the north
    and south, starting four months before Sudan itself gained independence. If you ever see
    a map hanging on a wall, you can instantly check if it's pre- or post-2011 by seeing
    whether or not it displays South Sudan as an independent nation!
    Now moving over to the Middle East, starting back again to the post-WWI period. The first
    change was in 1919 with the independence of Afghanistan from protected status under Great
    Britain, after Afghanistan invaded British India and they fought a very brief war.
    Of course, the biggest changes in the region at this time were motivated by the end of
    WWI - specifically, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Most of their former territory was
    administered through the newly created League of Nations in the Mandate system.
    In 1920, the victorious nations prepared plans for the Mandate for Palestine and the Mandate
    for Mesopotamia, to be granted to the British... as well as the Mandate for Syria and Lebanon,
    to be granted to the French.
    However, the Mandate for Mesopotamia was never established, and the territory east of the
    Jordan River, was removed from Mandatory Palestine. Both became British protectorates - the Kingdom
    of Iraq and the Emirate of Transjordan. Iraq became independent just 11 years later.
    The situation in the Arabian Peninsula was somewhat different, as much of the territory
    had broken free from the Ottomans, often with British support, during WWI. In 1921, the
    Sultanate of Nejd conquered the Emirate of Jabal Shammar, as well as the Kingdom of Hejaz
    4 years later. This led to the establishment of a dual monarchy, which would become unified
    as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932.
    The interwar period saw no international border changes, despite significant interethnic and
    anti-imperial tensions. However, in the lead-up to the war, a Turkish-majority portion of
    the French Mandate declared itself a separate state and, after a referendum, disestablished
    itself and joined Turkey as Hatay Province, which is still part of Turkey to this day.
    In addition, Lebanon removed itself from the mandate and achieved independence from France
    during the course of the Second World War.
    The end of the war brought tremendous changes to the region, starting in 1946, when Jordan
    and Syria gained their independence from the British and French mandates.
    In 1947, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 181, a plan for the partition of the British
    Mandate of Palestine. The partition was to establish two states, one Arab state and one
    Jewish state, along with a 'Special International Regime' for the city of Jerusalem. A significant
    majority of Arabs in Mandatory Palestine, as well the surrounding Arab states, were
    against the partition plan.
    Using the resolution as a legal basis, the State of Israel declared its independence
    in May of 1948. The following day, the surrounding Arab states invaded. The war lasted nearly
    10 months, at the end of which Israel controlled both the territory set aside for it in Resolution
    181, as well as about 60% of the territory of the prospective Palestinian state. The
    Jordanians held the West Bank of the Jordan River, including the eastern part of Jerusalem,
    while the Egyptians were in control of the Gaza Strip.
    Moving swiftly on… in 1958, Egypt and Syria briefly formed a union: the United Arab Republic,
    but this only lasted for 3 years as Syria seceded from the union following a coup d'état.
    Officially though, the union wasn't actually dissolved until 1971, but for a whole decade it was...
    well, just Egypt.
    In addition, Kuwait gained its independence in 1961, after being a British protectorate since 1899
    In 1967, border tensions between Israel and the surrounding states led to the Six Day
    War, which ended with a decisive Israeli victory. Israel ended the war in control of the Gaza
    Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank, including the entirety of Jerusalem, and the
    Golan Heights.
    In the same year, the British protectorate and federation of South Arabia declared
    their independence as South Yemen.
    Four countries gained their independence from the United Kingdom in 1971, ending British
    influence in the Middle East. Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman.
    In the Camp David Accords of 1978, Israel agreed to return the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt,
    with their full withdrawal being completed in 1982.
    Later on, in 1988, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation proclaimed the State of Palestine
    as independent, which, today is an observer state of the United Nations, with the West
    Bank and the Gaza Strip as its recognised territory. The international community is
    still split on the question of Palestinian sovereignty.
    And finally, in the year 1990, North and South Yemen… which should probably be called West and East
    Yemen, really, united to form the Republic of Yemen.
    Now, moving on to the rest of Asia… and we start with Germany ceding the Mariana Islands
    in the North Pacific to Japan after WWI.
    In 1931, Japan sought to expand their influence by invading Manchuria, in what led to conflict
    between Japan and China that would last until the end of WWII. Japan created a puppet state
    in the area called 'Manchukuo'.
    As Japan proceeded to capture yet more Chinese land in 1937, they created even more puppet
    states on the mainland, merging them in 1940.
    Over the course of WWII, Japan would capture a lot of territory throughout the Pacific,
    however the terms of their surrender in 1945 stated that "Japanese sovereignty shall be
    limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku,
    and such minor islands as we determine".
    This meant that not only were their conquests of the last decade reversed, but also, Japan
    had to relinquish control over both Korea and Taiwan, both of which had been captured
    even before the First World War.
    Japan was temporarily occupied by the Allied Powers, as was Korea, which was split at the
    38th parallel, with the Soviet Union controlling the north, and the United States controlling the south
    In 1946, the Philippines gained its independence from the United States on, not coincidentally,
    the fourth of July. This was celebrated as their independence day until it was later
    changed to 12th of June, the date of their independence from Spain in 1898.
    In 1947, British India was divided into two separate dominions: India and Pakistan. The
    Princely States (which were under the suzerainty of the British Crown) were given the choice
    of which dominion they wished to join. The split was mainly along the lines of religious
    beliefs, with India being predominantly Hindu, and Pakistan predominantly Muslim.
    In 1948, both Burma and Ceylon (renamed Sri Lanka) gained their independence from Great Britain.
    In the same year, in a similar situation to post-WWII Germany, a temporary split became
    more permanent, with the establishment of two separate Korean republics. The split eventually
    developed into a Cold War proxy conflict that lasted for 3 years, resulting in only a minor
    change to their original common border. Unlike Germany though, Korea still remains divided.
    Meanwhile, over in China, the Chinese Civil war was ongoing, and in 1949 the Nationalist
    government of the Republic of China was forced to flee to the island of Taiwan, with the
    victorious communists proclaiming the People's Republic of China. International recognition
    eventually shifted towards the People's Republic, and even to the present day the
    nationalist government remains in Taiwan, as a de facto independent country, but with
    a complicated and controversial political status.
    Anyway, moving onto 1952, and re-establishment of an independent Japan, as the Allies ended
    their military occupation.
    In the same year, Laos and Cambodia gained their independence from French Indochina,
    which was dissolved in the following year by the Geneva Accords, which granted independence
    to Vietnam, and provisionally split it between north and south.
    For years, the border area between India, China, and Pakistan had been cause for dispute.
    In 1962, a brief war between China and India gave China control of the disputed Aksai Chin
    region, and in the following year, Pakistan granted a tract of land to China, despite
    it also being claimed by India.
    Also in 1963, Singapore, North Borneo, Sarawak and the Federation of Malaya
    joined to form the country of Malaysia. Two years later though,
    Singapore withdrew, becoming its own independent country
    In 1971, Bengali nationalism led to a 9-month war of independence, as East Pakistan became
    the People's Republic of Bangladesh.
    In 1975, the Portuguese colony of East Timor declared its independence. However, just 10
    days later, it was invaded by Indonesia, who then annexed it after the conflict was over.
    In the same, after nearly 20 years of conflict, the Vietnam War came to an end.
    The US-backed South Vietnam lost to the communist north, and Vietnam was reunited.
    After the Vietnam War, there were no more major changes to the map of Asia…
    Brunei gained independence from the UK in 1983; Hong Kong and Macau were returned to China from
    the UK and Portugal in 1997 and 9, respectively, and East Timor gained its independence again, this
    time from Indonesia, after a 3-year UN transitional administration.
    The last border change I'm going to talk about was a major land exchange between India
    and Bangladesh. The two countries had, for decades, what was unquestionably the most
    complex international border in the entire world, with literally hundreds of enclaves
    and exclaves. The border was drastically simplified in 2015.
    And finally, I'm going to finish off this video by looking at the rest of the world
    - the Americas and Oceania, which I've grouped together because, comparably, there were so
    few changes.
    The changes in these parts of the world are dominated by the decolonisation of the British
    Empire, starting with Samoa in 1962, until St. Kitts and Nevis in 1983. Other countries
    include: Nauru from a UN trusteeship, Papua New Guinea from Australia, Suriname from the
    Netherlands, and three South Pacific Nations from the United States in more recent years.
    Other than that, there have mostly been fairly minor changes. In the Americas…
    Peru ceded a large portion of land in the Amazon rainforest to Colombia
    A border dispute between Chile and Peru was finally sorted, having arisen from a war that
    ended 46 years earlier! France annexed Isla de la Pasión as Clipperton
    Island A ceasefire between Paraguay and Bolivia awarded
    Paraguay territory which had been taken during the Chaco War
    Peru gained territory from Ecuador after an extended border dispute and a 6-month war
    A treaty between Costa Rica and Panama established their modern-day borders
    The Dominion of Newfoundland joined Canada after two referendums on its future
    And finally, a border dispute between Chile and Argentina was defined by arbitration by
    Queen Elizabeth II
    Annnnd in Oceania: Germany's colonies were ceded to Britain,
    Australia, and New Zealand after WWI The Australian territories of Papua and New
    Guinea merged into one territory, later becoming the country of Papua New Guinea
    The Cocos Islands and Christmas Island were transferred from Singapore to Australia
    Western Papua became part of Indonesia under the 1969 Act of Free Choice, after it had
    been captured from the Dutch several years earlier
    And finally, while not actually an international border, Kiribati changed its time zones, dramatically
    changing the international date line, to an awkward eastern panhandle which extends to
    Sometimes it's be easy to forget that the world map being more or less stable is a very
    recent phenomenon. However, the last 100 years have seen two world wars, the rise and fall
    of communism, and widespread decolonisation, which dramatically reshaped the geopolitical
    landscape. Going forward we can only hope that any future border changes are because
    of the will of the people, and without any bloodshed.
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