There is some debate about which country has the honor of being the oldest nation in the world. When it comes to the other extreme, it is hard to beat the Russian Democratic Federative Republic, which has the distinction of having been a country for a whopping whole six hours.
With the abdication of Czar Nicholas II in February 1917, the governance of the Russian empire was very much in chaos. Uprisings, civil wars, and revolutions by various factions took place on an almost-monthly basis.
Leaders gathered to try to craft a system of government that would bring order and stability to the vast landmass that encompassed a substantial chunk of the continent of Asia. After much debate and planning, they were ready to put it all in motion.
Around noon on January 19, 1918, a democratically elected Russian Constituent Assembly declared the establishment of the Russian Democratic Federative Republic. This new nation had citizens, land holdings, a government, and a system of laws.
The Bolsheviks did not take a shining to the new nation, however. Vladimir Lenin, in particular, believed the whole structure of government was far too moderate, catered to the Bourgeois, and would not go far enough to address the grievances of the working class. An executive committee under the direct control of Lenin dissolved the Russian Democratic Federative Republic at about 6:00 p.m. on the same day it was created.
All told, the Russian Democratic Federative Republic existed for six hours — not even enough time to watch all of three of the original Star Wars movies.
While we are on the subject of short-lived countries, we should take a moment to give a nod to the Catalan Republic. On October 1, 2017, the people of Catalonia held a referendum in which 90% of the voters supported independence from Spain. Nine days later, the leader of the independence movement, Carles Puigdemont, addressed the Catalan regional parliament, stating, “I assume the mandate of the people for Catalonia to become an independent state in the shape of a republic.”
A few seconds later, Puigdemont said he would “ask Parliament to suspend the effects of the declaration of independence so that in the coming weeks we can undertake a dialogue.”
From the moment of the declaration of independence to the withdrawal of that declaration, the Republic of Catalan could be said to have existed for eight seconds.
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