Oldest Country in the World

We all know about the ancient empires like China, Greece or Egypt. We could say that those can be called the oldest countries in the world. But is it so easy? To answer this question we have to think about the definition of a country.

Oldest Country in the World - San Marino

Oldest Country in the World – San Marino

Yes, many ancient empires could be named countries but not in a contemporary context as they were not national states. First states that were equal to the modern definition of a country were founded in the 19th century. However, world’s three oldest countries in the world are San Marino, Japan and China.

3 Oldest Countries in the World

San Marino – one of the world’s smallest countries, which is surrounded by the land of Italy, was founded on September 3, year 301 CE. However, it took many years for the pope to recognize this land – the recognition of Vatican is dated year 1631. San Marino is also a country that has the oldest constitution which was written in 1600.



It is believed that Japan is even older than San Marino as it was in 660 BCE when country’s first emperor Jimmu founded Japan. It took many centuries for Japanese islands to become a nationally united state. The Japanese culture and religion started to spread around the land only in 8th century CE. The Japanese themselves like to celebrate year 660 BCE as the year their country was founded. However, it experienced many different political systems and therefore it is believed by the most of the world that the beginning of Japan the way it is now can be dated the 19th century.



The first signs of the creation of the Chinese dynasty can be dated as far as 17th century BCE, which was the period of the Shang dynasty. However, Chinese themselves are used to celebrating the year 221 BCE as the one when their country was founded. It is the year when their emperor Qin Shi Huang declared himself as the First Emperor of China. The Republic of China was founded in 1912, but the People’s Republic of China – the form of the land as it exists today – was proclaimed in 1949.

Many other countries have been an object of discussions, so among the oldest countries France (842 CE), Denmark (~1000 CE), Hungary (1001 CE) and others can be named as well.

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