The origin of nations - The Times of India Atul Thakur,TNN | Jan 28, 2014, 07.11 PM IST Geographical boundaries have rarely withstood the test of history. In fact, more than two-third of today's countries got their present geographical shape in the past 114 years. From 1900 to 2011, the world atlas was redrawn several times, giving birth to 154 of the total 196 modern states (193 UN members and three non members). On average, every year since 1900 has witnessed the birth of more than one new nation. Roughly 68% of the world's inhibited area got its national identity during this period. Also, 83% of the world's population lives in geographical countries which didn't exist before 1900. The most recent in the list of UN member states, South Sudan, was carved out of Sudan after a 2011 referendum. Incidentally, Sudan was the first country to recognise its new neighbour. Similarly, a 2006 referendum marked the split of Serbia and Montenegro. The world map started taking its present form in the early twentieth century. The Ottoman Empire was on the verge of collapse, a great war was impending and the communists were gaining ground in Tsarist Russia and Germany. Between 1901 and 1917- the year just before the end of the First World War, the world witnessed the emergence of 10 sovereign states. Australia became independent from the federation of UK colonies, South Africa was formed from four British colonies and New Zealand got its self-governing status. Similarly Bulgaria and Albania got their independence from Ottoman Empire and four years of US administration ended in Cuba. The First World War and the Russian revolution were followed by the collapse of three huge empires- Ottoman, Russian and the Austro-Hungarian. The defeat of central powers- Imperial Germany, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria marked the end of German Colonial rule. Seventeen modern states (which exist today) were formed between 1918 and 1945-the years between the two great wars. Austria, Hungary and Turkey were established as the successor states of the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empire while countries of West Asia gained their independence. The interwar period witnessed brief period of self-governance of several East European countries- fragments of the Russian, Austria-Hungarian and Ottoman Empire. Many of these countries joined up to form Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. The British Empire started crumbling after the Second World War. Countries of South and East Asia were among the first to gain their independence. The five years between 1946 and 1949 saw the emergence of 11 present day states. This includes India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. Another significant development of the period was the formation of today's China and Israel. An ever deteriorating British Empire and mounting Soviet support triggered decolonisation of Africa in the 1950s. The first ten years after 1950 witnessed the emergence of ten new states. The twenty-four years between 1960 and 1984 was a time of rapid decolonisation. On an average more than three countries were formed every year during this period. The present map of most of Africa, West Indies, Asia and Oceania was drawn during this time. Overall 74 new countries were formed. The 1990s once again proved to be a cartographer's nightmare. The fall of the Berlin Wall triggered the disintegration of the countries behind the iron curtain. The Soviet and the Yugoslav union of socialist republics collapsed and twenty new countries were formed. Similarly Czechoslovakia split into Czech Republic and Slovakia. The two decades between 1990 and 2011 have witnessed the formation of 30 new countries. A closer analysis of countries by the years of independence suggests that majority of the world's largest economies were formed before 1900. For instance US, Japan, France, Brazil, UK and Italy existed before this cut-off date. India, China, present day Russia and Germany were formed in the past 114 years. The bottom ten countries with worst HDI record were formed after 1958 and six of them are former French colonies.