The Oldest Countries in the World

Iran can be considered the oldest country in the world. Editorial credit: Milosz Maslanka /
Iran can be considered the oldest country in the world. Editorial credit: Milosz Maslanka /

There are 195 countries in the world, 193 of which are UN members. While determining the age of a nation, it is important to understand that the process is gradual. Consequently, it is next to impossible to determine when exactly a state was formed. However, through the analysis of the history of a country, it is possible to come up with an objective age. Another way that the age can be determined may be through the use of the date a country adopted a constitution. This method is unambiguous although it cannot be applied to some nations.

Iran is the oldest country in the world with its sovereignty coming back in 3200 BC. Egypt is a close second with its establishment happening in 3100 BC. The rest of the three countries in the top five are Vietnam (2879 BC), Armenia (2492 BC), and North Korea (2333 BC). Japan closes the list with its establishment happening back in 400.

Oldest Countries in the World


Officially known as the Islamic Republic of Iran, Iran’s habitation goes as far back as the Lower Paleolithic. Some of the earliest civilizations include Elam and Jiroft. Elam, which was the most prominent, was the one responsible for founding Iran during the Proto-Elamite era or Susa III.


Officially known as the Arab Republic of Egypt, Egypt has been inhabited since ancient times. In fact, most historians agree that the country is the cradle of civilization itself due to early developments in things like writing and governance. Over the years, the nation has been built by civilizations such as Romans, Greeks, and Nubians.


Formally known as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Vietnam traces its roots all the way back to Âu Lạc (a historical Vietnamese state). However, the first semblance of a government can be attributed to the Hồng Bàng dynasty. The dynasty is so old that some historians consider it a mythical period. Âu Lạc came after the dynasty.


Armenia (the Republic of Armenia) is a country in Asia with ancient roots. Archaeological data shows that the nation was inhabited as early as the Bronze Age around 4000 BC. The events leading to the formation of the country are unclear as evidenced by the legend of Hayk who was responsible for founding Armenia. Older known civilizations that have also helped shape the country include Hittites and Mitanni.

North Korea

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea has a rich history going as far back as approximately 7th century BC during the period of the First Kingdom. The formation of the country back in that period is actually a matter of legend.

State Symbols

While measuring the age of a country, using state symbols can be erroneous. These symbols may refer to the formation of a state as a political entity although they may not necessarily show the formation of a nation as a social unit.

The Oldest Countries in the World

RankCountrySovereignty Acquired
1 Iran3200 BC
2Egypt3100 BC
3Vietnam2879 BC
4Armenia2492 BC
5North Korea2333 BC
6India2000 BC
7Georgia1300 BC
8Israel1300 BC
9Sudan1070 BC
10Afghanistan678 BC
11Mongolia209 BC
12Somalia200 BC
13Ethiopia200 BC
14San Marino301

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