A hundred years ago, World War I wreaked all kinds of havoc on the borders of Europe. Yugoslavia, a southeastern European country created in 1918 as “the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes” and renamed Yugoslavia a decade later, united many culturally and ethnically diverse territories that were part of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. The new nation included the current states of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia. But Yugoslavia was headed for more strife in the 20th century: broken up and occupied during World War II, reunited under a communist leader post-war, followed later by fighting during the 1990s. Now that the country is officially no longer, much of the region is experiencing greater peace. Croatia’s coastal city of Dubrovnik doubles for the hit HBO series Game of Thrones’ King’s Landing, making it such a popular tourist destination that it had to limit the number of visitors.
Although we associate Tibet with peaceful Buddhist monks and its spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, this region northwest of India has been fought over for centuries. Tibet was actually its own independent country only from 1912 to 1951, when it was made part of China. Efforts to ‘free Tibet’ are ongoing, and the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Dalai Lama, now retired, still resides in exile in India. The country is also a destination for adventure seekers and mountaineers because it contains the highest point on Earth, the nearly 8849 metre Mount Everest, which lies on the border of Nepal.
Never heard of Neutral Moresnet? You’re not the only one. This minuscule country of just over two-and-a-half square kilometres was carved out of an agreement between the Dutch and the Prussians (more on them later) in 1816, so both nations would have access to its zinc mine. Neutral Moresnet had its own flag and even made its own coins. Efforts were made to turn the tiny nation into a utopia with its own artificial ‘world language,’ Esperanto. But it fell victim to World War I, and then became part of Belgium. The present-day residents of the area, however, still celebrate the anniversary of Neutral Moresnet’s creation.