Ghost states: the unrecognized countries in the world

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Joel Fulleda


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"No Man's Land", a title that often recurs in cinematography, theater and music and which echoes the names of Davis, Pinter, Hevia and Tanović, just to name the most famous.Nobody's land": but is it only in art that we can use this denomination? No, not only in art, why? even in reality there are so-called "Ghost states": who would have thought that? Let's find out more.


  1. What is the meaning of phantom state?
  2. List of unrecognized countries in the world
  3. User questions and comments

What is the meaning of phantom state?

A ghost state, technically one "Limited recognition status", is a country not officially recognized by other states, or it is recognized only by some of them. This lack of recognition often has historical and historiographical roots: in many cases, ghost states are born as a result of wars and episodes of blood, declaring a independence which, however, is not recognized by the rest of the world, or at least not by all countries.
A de facto ghost state depending on the case it can control and govern the population and can also maintain diplomatic relations with other countries, especially those who recognize it.

List of unrecognized countries in the world

There are about twenty ghost states: some are not recognized by any other country in the world, while others are recognized only by certain nations: in practice, a state can exist according to a nation, while for another it is as if it did not exist: interesting this phenomenon, right? Let's go and discover some of the most famous ghost states together.

1. Somaliland, Africa

State recognized by: Nobody

Somaliland is in fact the only 100% ghost state: it is not recognized by any member of the international community. Somaliland in 1990 declared its independence from the Somali Republic, seeking an autonomous sovereignty. However Somaliland entertains political relations with some countries including the United Kingdom, Rwanda, Norway and Ethiopia. There are several requests for recognition from the international community, including from the African Union.

2. Transnistria, Moldova

State recognized by: Abkhazia, Nagorno Karabakh and South Ossetia

Transnistria is a de facto independent state, not recognized by the UN member states which instead consider it part of the Republic of Moldova. In fact this region has declared its own independence from Moldova in 1990, establishing its own autonomous administration in the city of Tiraspol.

3. Nagorno Karabakh Republic, Azerbaijan

State recognized by: Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria

This ghost state is also not recognized by UN member states. Proclaimed autonomous from Azerbaijan at the end of a bloody war in 1992, some parts of the territory are still controlled by the Azerbaijani population.

4. Abkhazia, Georgia

State recognized by: Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Nauru, Vanuatu, Tuvalu, South Ossetia, Transnistria and Nagorno Karabakh

Territory claimed by Georgia, it is recognized by 6 UN member countries and 3 non-members. Independence from Georgia was achieved in 1991, again following a ruinous war and in a highly critical period for the entire Soviet Union.

5. Northern Cyprus, Turkey

State recognized by: Turkey

An independent state founded in 1983, it is actually a self-proclaimed republic recognized only by Turkey, of which it was previously a part. Although the Republic of Cyprus has been a member of the EU since 2004, Northern Cyprus remains a ghost state in its own right.

6. Palestine, Near East

State recognized by: 135 UN member countries and from 1 non-member country (Western Sahara)

Although it is so often heard of, and despite being widely recognized by many states around the world, Palestine is actually a ghost state, still today. without a stable state organization. It is also partially occupied by Israel, while the Gaza Strip is subjected to naval, land and air blockade by Israel. The claimed capital is East Jerusalem, while the de facto capital is Ramallah.

7. Israel, Near East

State recognized by: 32 UN members

Israel is also a ghost state for many nations. The main reason for this lack of recognition is the fact that Israel, due to the Palestinian question, is one State that creates continuous tensions in the Arab world, and in fact it is not recognized by Islamic countries with the exception of Turkey, Egypt, Jordan and Mauritania, with which it maintains normal political relations.

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