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How Old Is the Average Country?

timothy posted about a year ago | from the we-just-eat-a-lot-of-yogurt dept.

Earth 375

Daniel_Stuckey writes with a snippet from his piece at Vice: "I did some calculations in Excel, using independence dates provided on About.com, and found the average age of a country is about 158.78 years old. Now, before anyone throws a tizzy about what makes a country a country, about nations, tribes, civilizations, ethnic categories, or about my makeshift methodology, keep in mind, I simply assessed 195 countries based on their political sovereignty. That is the occasion we're celebrating today, right?"

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If it makes you sleep well at night.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44190645)

I'm happy here in the UK, enjoying the thousands of years of history. U jelly murica?

Re:If it makes you sleep well at night.... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44190691)

The author gives the UK age as 306 in his map. (He did use about.com as a "source")

Re: If it makes you sleep well at night.... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44190735)

The UK is a new fangled invention at 306 years old but England is 1086 years old, happy birthday America.

Re: If it makes you sleep well at night.... (5, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#44190765)

"England" may be 1000+ years old but 1) it's far from certain that it's the same "England" as today, and 2) it was a subsidiary of Normandy, Inc. for quite some time, pardon my Middle French.

Re: If it makes you sleep well at night.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44190945)

nothing uncertain about age of "England", 927 A.D. it became a unified state. -- rubycodez

Re: If it makes you sleep well at night.... (5, Insightful)

KiloByte (825081) | about a year ago | (#44191143)

On the other hand, this site lists Austria as 1037 years old, Hungary as 1012. Please remind me, what country did that guy named Franz Joseph rule?

Re: If it makes you sleep well at night.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44191281)

Franz Joseph didn't rule a country, he ruled several, Austria and Hungary among them.

Re: If it makes you sleep well at night.... (1)

Teancum (67324) | about a year ago | (#44191257)

In terms of the current "regime" in England, it could be best called the form of the government following Oliver Cromwell's republic [wikipedia.org] . That was 1660, thus only 353 years even if you count just England and not the whole UK.

That is still a pretty good run under the current "constitution" which exists in that part of the world. Most other countries have a much shorter period of time, and even America went through a couple major government changes in that same length of time.

Re: If it makes you sleep well at night.... (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year ago | (#44190821)

Wouldn't that be 2013-1066 = 947?

Re: If it makes you sleep well at night.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44190921)

The Norman invasion didn't create England. England was created through the uniting of the Saxon kingdoms by Aethelstan in 927.

Re: If it makes you sleep well at night.... (1, Insightful)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44191107)

The Norman invasion didn't create England. England was created through the uniting of the Saxon kingdoms by Aethelstan in 927.

You consider it the same country even after the Normans trounced you, completely changed the government and aristocracy, and even started to change the language almost beyond recognition. Yeah, right.

Re: If it makes you sleep well at night.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44191171)

Yep. You consider yours the same country even after you change president and government every four years ? ( and your language is changing all the time ! )

Re: If it makes you sleep well at night.... (1)

Motard (1553251) | about a year ago | (#44191243)

We change presidents every 4-8 years. Not governments. And the language we're changing is yours (assuming you're a Brit AC). ;)

Re: If it makes you sleep well at night.... (1)

bfandreas (603438) | about a year ago | (#44191191)

...and got conquered again by William in 1689 who ousted the legitimate sovereign. And after the Stuart line finally died out was ruled by Germans.

England/the UK doesn't have a linear history. It's a squiggly line that breaches several dimensions and branches all over Europe. As history tends to do. A jolly mess it is. If you want to properly fuxor your brain do the same for the same time frame for Germany.

Re: If it makes you sleep well at night.... (3, Interesting)

mrbester (200927) | about a year ago | (#44191231)

And we returned the favour by owning more of France than the French for over 300 years. Not content with that we then had the largest empire the world had ever seen. Not bad for a little island of drizzle.

Re: If it makes you sleep well at night.... (3, Funny)

bfandreas (603438) | about a year ago | (#44191155)

Yep. England is older than the UK. But it's the UK that's on the map. The Acts of Union created a new entity. This is not an Edward Longshanks style of conquest. And it happened just a couple of decades after England had been conquered by the Netherlands.

Frankly that guy armed with Wikipedia and Excel either had a lot of balls or was blissfully unaware into what kind of mess he just stepped. Just wait until the French wake up in the morning.

Re:If it makes you sleep well at night.... (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44190763)

So he's dating it from the Act of Union in 1707 that created the United Kingdom.

Re:If it makes you sleep well at night.... (1)

pjt33 (739471) | about a year ago | (#44191009)

It created the United Kingdom of Great Britain. The current composition of the United Kingdom (of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) is less than a century old.

Re:If it makes you sleep well at night.... (1)

Motard (1553251) | about a year ago | (#44191251)

By that logic, the Roman Empire ceased to exist when they conquered Naples.

Re:If it makes you sleep well at night.... (4, Insightful)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a year ago | (#44190949)

Yeah. If a country merged with some other country, or was temporaly invaded by another, then for these guys its as if this country did not exist beforehand. I mean just look at the Iberian Peninsula or France. The borders have been mostly stable for yonks and look at the claimed age. Just pathetic.

So dear US readers... Please explain to me why the UK is as old as the Act of Union while you did not measure the age of your country starting with the annexation of Texas or some other quaint date like that.

Re:If it makes you sleep well at night.... (5, Funny)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44191117)

Please explain to me why the UK is as old as the Act of Union while you did not measure the age of your country starting with the annexation of Texas or some other quaint date like that.

Mentioning Texas is hitting below the belt.

Re:If it makes you sleep well at night.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44190697)

Not really. According to twitter, 'Merica is super old!

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BOUWOi0CQAElhQN.png:large

Re:If it makes you sleep well at night.... (4, Insightful)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44190811)

I'm happy here in the UK, enjoying the thousands of years of history.

Speaking of history, you obviously didn't pay attention in class. The UK is only 306 years old (Acts of Union in 1706 and 1707). And you folks complain about Americans not understanding the difference between England/Scotland/Wales, Britain and the UK.

P.S. If you see the queen, say happy Independence Day for me.

Re:If it makes you sleep well at night.... (1)

Vreejack (68778) | about a year ago | (#44190861)

They will be getting their bonfires ready to burn an effigy of a member of that hacker's group, Anonymous.

Re:If it makes you sleep well at night.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44190901)

You may call it Independence Day, but over here it's just the anniversary of when we finally got shot of those troublesome colonies started by religious fanatics.
Revisionism FTW! [youtu.be] .

Re:If it makes you sleep well at night.... (3, Informative)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44191089)

You may call it Independence Day, but over here it's just the anniversary of when we finally got shot of those troublesome colonies started by religious fanatics.
 

Rationalize all you want - we beat you. As for those religious fanatics, you should have known better than to go up against them They were the same variety that beheaded your king in 1649.

Re:If it makes you sleep well at night.... (1)

bfandreas (603438) | about a year ago | (#44191217)

That's a rather simplistic view on the Commonwealth. You'd just as well might say that WW1 was had to keep the imperialistic German huns at bay.

Re:If it makes you sleep well at night.... (1)

radiumsoup (741987) | about a year ago | (#44191233)

you mean "some guys who lived here beat some other guys that were sent over here by people who used to live where you live". There's a difference.

Re:If it makes you sleep well at night.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44191079)

I did and she said 'Good riddance'.

Re: If it makes you sleep well at night.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44190977)

POM =Prisoner of the Monachy
Royal Family = Murdering bloodline of Dictators

Stay happy but you will wake up one day

Re: If it makes you sleep well at night.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44191095)

G'day Bruce.

Re: If it makes you sleep well at night.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44190989)

Royal Family= Murdering bloodline of dictators

Re:If it makes you sleep well at night.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44190993)

A thousand years ago England was French so ooh la la rosbif.

Re:If it makes you sleep well at night.... (5, Informative)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44191159)

A thousand years ago England was French so ooh la la rosbif.

Actually it was Norman, which isn't quite the same thing. The Normans spoke French but were Norsemen who'd settled in Normandy only a century or two before the Norman Conquest. Even the name "Norman" derives from "Norse".

Re: If it makes you sleep well at night.... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44191221)

European here living in the States.

And I truly find the saying "the English think 100
miles is a long distance and the Americans think 100 years is a long time" to be really accurate!

Re: If it makes you sleep well at night.... (3, Interesting)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | about a year ago | (#44191259)

On the US side it really under-states things.

Americans will accept a daily commute of 100 miles (50 miles a way), and won't understand why you didn't drive 150 miles out of your way to see them on the holidays. After all it's only two-and-a-half hours.

OTOH things that happened even 50 years ago (like the Civil Rights Movement) are ancient history.

you lost me at... (5, Funny)

RedHackTea (2779623) | about a year ago | (#44190661)

Excel and About.com

Re:you lost me at... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44190709)

Please let us lose you too.

Utterly Meaningless Numbers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44190677)

Next can we get a graph that correlates height to hat wearing or some other useful statistic.

Re:Utterly Meaningless Numbers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44190767)

The average country is the age of the Library of Congress divided by the length of a football field.

Re:Utterly Meaningless Numbers (1)

istartedi (132515) | about a year ago | (#44191253)

Obligatory: New Cuyama [wikimedia.org]

Young China... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44190721)

I'm pretty sure there was a little spat in china around 1949....

If a King rules a Kingdom, (1)

ozduo (2043408) | about a year ago | (#44190723)

and an Emperor rules an Empire then who rules a country?

Re:If a King rules a Kingdom, (5, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#44190789)

A count, I presume? (Although nowadays, from what people are telling me, it more like someone called a "countant" rules the land, or how this horrible notion is spelled.)

Re:If a King rules a Kingdom, (1)

VanGarrett (1269030) | about a year ago | (#44190905)

A quick couple of searches doesn't seem to immediately turn up a definition for "countant", but a Count is in charge of a County.

Re:If a King rules a Kingdom, (1)

excursive (2823185) | about a year ago | (#44191025)

It was a pun.

Re: If a King rules a Kingdom, (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about a year ago | (#44191103)

You missed the joke.

Re: If a King rules a Kingdom, (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44191263)

Cut 'em some slack. It isn't a pun in the language of Wooshdom.

Re:If a King rules a Kingdom, (1)

ozduo (2043408) | about a year ago | (#44191179)

you have got one too many letters in you answer!

TL;DR (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#44190725)

158.78 years old.

Next.

more data? (1)

ByTor-2112 (313205) | about a year ago | (#44190733)

What about standard deviation and median? At least give me a histogram.

Re:more data? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44191207)

What about standard deviation and median? At least give me a histogram.

calculations in Excel, using independence dates provided on About.com

Excel doesn't do histograms - it does bar charts. Even with the stats expension pack, it still doesn't do half decent histograms.

Anyway - given the dataset used, the question should be rephrased as "how old is the average modern nation state?" rather than "country". Surprize: the result is somewhere near the middle of the "modern times".

So much for "New Republic" (4, Funny)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44190737)

Given that this is America's 237'th birthday, which make us 78.22 years older than the average (49.26%), should they change the name of the magazine from "The New Republic" to "The Somewhat-Older-Than-Average Republic"?

Re:So much for "New Republic" (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44190925)

You inadvertently put your finger on the point of this article: yet another "see, us Americans are better than most countries." But the more the Americans go on and on about how much better they are proves the point of how immature they are, like the 12 year old who insists his dad can beat anybody else's dad.

Re:So much for "New Republic" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44191169)

We can beat up anyone's dad. That's not the question. We just haven't gotten past why it's smart to not beat up people's dads for little reason or the fact we'll have to support them financially for decades after we do beat them up.

Re:So much for "New Republic" (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44191183)

You inadvertently put your finger on the point of this article: yet another "see, us Americans are better than most countries." But the more the Americans go on and on about how much better they are proves the point of how immature they are, like the 12 year old who insists his dad can beat anybody else's dad.

You inadvertently don't understand something called "humor".

Re:So much for "New Republic" (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about a year ago | (#44191029)

We're not a republic any more as of the 17th amendment. Not quite a democracy, though.

Re:So much for "New Republic" (3, Insightful)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44191215)

The 17th Amendment changes the US government vis-à-vis federalism, but doesn't make it any less a republic. You could eliminate the states and federalism entirely and still have a republic. Many countries, such as France, have such an arrangement.

Re:So much for "New Republic" (1)

Motard (1553251) | about a year ago | (#44191289)

We still have a representative form of government. Just not the part that was representative of the representatives.

Not saying that's either good or bad, but it didn't change the form of government.

Re:So much for "New Republic" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44191223)

I thought current America was created in 1959 with Hawaii getting statehood. That's about 53 years ( nearly 54 now ).

Re:So much for "New Republic" (1)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#44191255)

The Somewhat-Older-Than-Average Republic

And stay off our lawn! BTW, the world is our lawn.

Egypt in 1922? (4, Insightful)

Voyager529 (1363959) | about a year ago | (#44190747)

A cursory look at the Wikipedia article indicates that Egypt has spent time under the rule of a few empires here and there over history, but it and Greece have both been their own societies for several thousand years in spite of this. I figure that both countries are closer to the age of China than they're listed...but that's just me.

Re:Egypt in 1922? (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about a year ago | (#44190799)

And how something like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Revolution [wikipedia.org] doesn't mean it's not a new country where many others in the list fall into the same category.

Re:Egypt in 1922? (5, Interesting)

Alef (605149) | about a year ago | (#44190923)

...or the fact that France was occupied by the Germans during WWII. The three year occupation of Sweden by the Danes during a war in the 1520:s, on the other hand, is apparently enough to cut Sweden's age down to 490 years.

Something which by the way wouldn't bother a Swede if it wasn't for the fact that the blasted Danes are listed at 1048 years. ;-)

Re:Egypt in 1922? (3, Insightful)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | about a year ago | (#44191033)

It looks like his choice of independence year in these cases is based on what the people in that country say.

Swedes say they were conquered by Denmark, and became independent in 1523, therefore that is the year that gets entered on the spreadsheet. The French don't recognize Petain's government as legitimate, therefore the slightly-longer German occupation of France during WW2 doesn't count as France losing it's independence.

The French actually have a legal point. For the entire time they were occupied in the homeland de Gaulle had troops under his command throughout their Empire.

Re:Egypt in 1922? (1)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | about a year ago | (#44190833)

During WW1 Egypt was ruled by a Khedive who was technically a vassal of the British Monarch. The Khedive was actually originally an Ottoman vassal, but in the late 19th the Egyptians decided to join an Empire that didn't suck and switched allegiances. In 1922 the Egyptians became independent of the Brits and the Khedive promoted himself to King.

Re:Egypt in 1922? (3, Interesting)

tirerim (1108567) | about a year ago | (#44190869)

Indeed, there are a lot of countries that have been sovereign nations at various discontinuous periods in history, with varying degrees of continuity between those periods. Iceland was independent for a few centuries at the beginning of the previous milennium before merging with Norway again, and counts its legislature as continuous since that time, but the map only counts its most recent independence. On the other hand, France is listed as having been independent since the end of the rule of Charlemagne, despite having changed types of government several times since then and being conquered by Germany in World War II.

Re:Egypt in 1922? (1)

erice (13380) | about a year ago | (#44191129)

A cursory look at the Wikipedia article indicates that Egypt has spent time under the rule of a few empires here and there over history, but it and Greece have both been their own societies for several thousand years in spite of this. I figure that both countries are closer to the age of China than they're listed...but that's just me.

But China is wrong too. The Ming Dynasty was conquered by the Manchu Empire in 1644 which gradually morphed into the Qing Dynasty. So no more than 369 years.

China before 1950 did not include Tibet.

It could even be argued that modern China's sovereignty was not recognized until 1971 when the UN recognized the PRC as the legitimate ruler of China.

Incredible mistakes in Europe... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44190755)

Poland 95 years old? Germany 142 years? Italy 152? Greece 184? Come on, you can do better than that. Nice try. Next try.

Re:Incredible mistakes in Europe... (5, Informative)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | about a year ago | (#44190927)

Here's what you don't get:
He's not talking about existence as a culture, he's talking about being recognized as an independent nation-state.

Germany, for example, did not actually exist as a nation-state prior to the Prussian defeat of the Hapsburgs in the Austro-Prussian War, and the defeat of Napoleon III in the Franco-Prussian War a few years after that. What existed were hundreds of feuding statelets that all spoke German.

The Greeks existed as a culture, but the last independent Greek state had been conquered by the Ottomans in the 15th century.

The Italians were in exactly the same boat as the Germans. There were the Kings of the Two Sicilies and Piedmont, the Pope, a Grand Duke of Tuscony, Hapsburgs in Venice, and several smaller states that were absorbed by Piedmont prior to unification.

Poland was divided between three Empires at the end of the 18th. Officially the Czar was Polish Head of State, but he didn't give the Poles any autonomy, and ran his bit of Poland as if it was merely another Oblast of Russia, so the Poles don;t count that as independence.

Re:Incredible mistakes in Europe... (2)

Alomex (148003) | about a year ago | (#44191057)

What existed were hundreds of feuding statelets that all spoke German.

Not even that, they all spoke dialects of Germanic such as:

  Ripuarian, Moselle Franconian, Central Hessian, East Hessian, North Hessian, Thuringian, North Upper Saxon, Rhine Franconian, Lorraine Franconian, Silesian German, High Prussian, Lausitzisch-NeumÃrkisch, Upper Saxon, Alsatian, Swabian, Low Alemannic, Central Alemannic, High Alemannic, Highest Alemannic, Southern Austro-Bavarian, Central Austro-Bavarian and Northern Austro-Bavarian. [wikipedia]

when the feuding statelets came together they had to settle on High German as the "common language" but make no mistake the country came first, the common language came after.

Re:Incredible mistakes in Europe... (1)

Carewolf (581105) | about a year ago | (#44190935)

They count the age of the current country. Been conquerored for half a millenia and only recently later got lose again, you are a young country Greece. Existed as geograpic feature for millenia but only recently became a country you are young too Germany and Italy.. Seriously why are you surprised of Germany and Italys age?? They are very young countries formed from a random selection of smaller states.

Re:Incredible mistakes in Europe... (1)

Sique (173459) | about a year ago | (#44191267)

Both Italy and Germany didn't form from randomly collected smaller states. All states that joined Germany in 1871 were either member states of the Holy Roman Empire until 1806 or at least had predecessors that were. Similarly with Italy. All states that joined Italy in 1861 were on the territory of the Kingdom of Italy as founded by Odoacer in 476 AD.

Re:Incredible mistakes in Europe... (1)

Sique (173459) | about a year ago | (#44191017)

The actual Poland is really 95 years old, after the Polish Rzeczpospolita was dissolved in 1791 and the parts were distributed between Prussia, Russia and Austria. They only rejoined in 1918. Same with Germany. The first ever state which had "Germany" (or Deutschland) in its name was founded in 1949. There was always some idea about a unified Germany, but never an actual state, until 1871 the German Reich was founded (which still wasn't officially called Germany). Greece was not a sovereign state since the conquest of Macedonia in 146 BC until it broke away from the Osman Empire in 1830. The only complaint one could have was that the term "sovereignity" is used pretty loosely.

Re:Incredible mistakes in Europe... (1)

Sique (173459) | about a year ago | (#44191083)

Ah yes, Italy. Italy was not a sovereign state until the unification of the Dukedom of Milan with the Kingdom of Naples, Sicilia and large parts of the Holy See, which happened in 1861.

Re:Incredible mistakes in Europe... (1)

BluBrick (1924) | about a year ago | (#44191119)

Agreed. USA 237 years old? Does April 9th, 1865 ring a bell?

Re:Incredible mistakes in Europe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44191265)

although the confederate states seceded, the united states continued to exist throughout the war, albeit smaller.

soooo, you're dumb.

unless your contention is that the united states becomes a new country every time a state joins the union, in which case the united states is actually only 53 years old

It was already revealed a couple weeks back - (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44190827)

It was already revealed a couple weeks back that we ARE Big Brother. So what's your point?

Poland existed hundreds years before 1918. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44190843)

Author assumed, that a country didn't exist before getting independence. That is not always true because a country may lost independence temporarily and regain it later. For example Poland exists since 966 (1047 years) but wasn't independent from 1975 to 1918 and during some other periods, like WW2 and communism. Author took year 1918 and concluded Poland is 95 years old which is not true.

Re:Poland existed hundreds years before 1918. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44191135)

TFA has troll written all over it. Notice it's posted on July 4, USA's independence day. It's just another feeble attempt by the Americans to pump their chest and say "yeah we're better than the rest of the world."

Re:Poland existed hundreds years before 1918. (1)

Sique (173459) | about a year ago | (#44191211)

It is true, because the Poland of the Rzeczpospolita until 1795 was a completely different state than the Poland today - even on partly different territory. There is for instance no continious tradition of laws and political institutions. Yes, the parliament of the Rzeczpospolita was called Sejm like the one today, but there is no continious political tradition of political parties between the old Sejm and the new one. There are for instance no remainings of the old Union of Lublin and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Completely incorrect! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44190847)

This is (almost definitely) a completely incorrect method to calculate "the average age of a country". The statistic provided here is the average age of (a sample of) countries existing at present, not the average age of countries that have existed. The difference might seem pedantic, but it has an immense effect on the computed statistic, because it excludes countries which existed briefly, no matter how recently. Some geographical locations have been through many, many sovereignties during the 158.78 years quoted. (This could be called left-censored data, because everything is excluded if it is not current at the moment of observation).

A better statistic might be the mean duration of countries that have existed over the last few centuries, which will slightly underestimate due to countries that will continue to exist (which could be called right-censored data).

A further improvement would be to take the median, because country life-spans are likely to have a strongly skewed distribution, perhaps approximating Pareto distribution, with a long, thin tail of a small number of very long lifespans.

Not Gaussian (2)

JanneM (7445) | about a year ago | (#44190857)

I'm pretty sure* the distribution is not Gaussian, so the mean is a misleading statistic. At least add the median as well.

Also, as others have pointed out, there seems to be some rather problematic methodological issues with the way age is defined and used in the data set.

* This is Slashdot; you didn't think I would go and actually check, do you?

Slashdot is dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44190891)

Slashdot is dead.

Long live Slashdot!

As a Greek i must object... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44190895)

While the author of this -interesting in any case- article writes "Now, before anyone throws a tizzy about what makes a country a country, about nations, tribes, civilizations, ethnic categories, or about my makeshift methodology, keep in mind, I simply assessed 195 countries based on their political sovereignty.", it's still not an excuse for this very limited definition of a "country"...
Usually a "country", especially if it's not "multi-cultural/race" like U.S.A. (by the way... happy birthday!), it's more than a "political sovereignty" - for example, Greeks were under Ottoman rule by force from 1453 A.D. (fall of Constantinople) until 1821 when the last -there were many others before- revolution for freedom began, and some Greeks even consider that it's still "work in progress"! Even under Ottoman rule, most Greeks were in a state of limited autonomy (Turks and their Muslim allies were just collected taxes), and some places were fully autonomus (Ottomans were not able to defeat locals). And for a couple of years in the World War 2 we were under the German-Italian rule.
So, Greece (184 years old as the article states) is at least as old as Japan (2673 years old as the article states) and surely older than USA (237 years old as the article states)...

Terrible Methodology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44190911)

Using political dates for some countries, yet cultural age for others? What's even the point. Most "countries", in terms of their government are, in fact, very young. China's and Japan's current governments both came about after WW2. It's a laughable political fiction to say China and Japan have been the same countries for 2000+ years.

One can go across the map and pick out the inconsistencies. Using the date of unification for the UK, yet listing France as 1100 years. Hell, why stop there, why not just go back and include the era of Frankish kingdoms too. Pad those stats some more.

This would be an interesting exercise if the methodology had been consistent and logical.

Re:Terrible Methodology (3, Informative)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | about a year ago | (#44191067)

He's using political dates for all countries.

If you ask a Pole when his country became independent he will tell that it was when the last King of Congress Poland (aka: the Czar) fell in 1918. If you ask a Swede when his country became independent he'll give you 1523, when the Danes were thrown out. The Chinese, Japanese, and French all claim direct lineage to states founded a long time before that.

You can argue that the French and Chinese are full of shit, or that the "age of a country" like Poland can't accurately be calculated by it's independence day. You cannot argue that the author used a double-standard.

Interesting I though I would try this: (2)

cpuffer_hammer (31542) | about a year ago | (#44190987)

Interesting I though I would try this:

http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=average+age+of+all+the+countries [wolframalpha.com] .

Re:Interesting I though I would try this: (1)

cpuffer_hammer (31542) | about a year ago | (#44191027)

But I think I can find a better way of wording it.

Re:Interesting I though I would try this: (4, Funny)

GumphMaster (772693) | about a year ago | (#44191077)

"Oh we've got both kinds, we've got country and western."

As sensible an answer as the OP

Former countries? (1)

stevegee58 (1179505) | about a year ago | (#44190995)

What about former countries? Yugoslavia? How old is Serbia? It wasn't a country while it was part of Yugoslavia.
The list goes on and on.

Canada (1)

danbob999 (2490674) | about a year ago | (#44191001)

Wasn't fully sovereign until 1982. So there is more than political sovereignty in this map.

Re:Canada (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44191271)

Canada wasn't fully sovereign until 1982.

Canada is a country now? Really? Historically it was just a dumping ground for unrepentant Tories (tell the Francophones and First Nations we're sorry about that).

u need to look at dead countries. (3, Insightful)

happyjack27 (1219574) | about a year ago | (#44191031)

if you're looking for average lifespan of a country, you have to actually look at countries that are no longer around. since ones that are alive you have no idea of how long they will continue to be alive. maybe one day, maybe a thousand years. if all the countries you sampled are still around then your sample size - as far as survival time is concerned - is effectively zero. you could assume an exponential probability distribution and try to compose a maximum likelihood estimate based on they all will live longer than they have been around, or on average their expectation is twice as long as they've been around, but still... why make such extrapolations when you can use actual samples from countries that are no longer around?

Thailand should skew the results (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44191039)

Siam has been there for a long time. Yes they get overrun a few times but they are still there.

We're not celebrating political sovereignty (1)

excursive (2823185) | about a year ago | (#44191059)

We didn't gain that until some time later. We're celebrating the declaration of intention to gain sovereignty.

Re:We're not celebrating political sovereignty (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44191279)

Depends on what part of the country you're talking about. New England was de facto independent by July 4, 1776. Much of the rest of the country was under foreign occupation, but we fixed that.

What a load of rubbish (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44191069)

Comparison of arbitrary dates which are pretty meaningless on their own and totally meaningless compared to each other. Who picked this "newsworthy item" for main page of /.?

This data is wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44191111)

These numbers are all wrong. For example, France, which is listed as an old country, has had many revolutions, border changes, etc. The current constitution dates to 1958. The same can be said of China. Modern China has undergone many border changes, was comprised of several kingdoms, and it's current governmental system dates to 1949. Japan is in a similar situation, what with WWII, shoguns, etc. More interesting would be a chart showing how old the system of government is. In that case, you will probably find that the USA is one of the oldest around.

Stupid definition (1)

Dasher42 (514179) | about a year ago | (#44191151)

I do not see that people are primarily defined by what government they're under. Human relationships are less bounded, more amorphous, more interwoven than the neat lines and branches nationalism would imply.

Come on! The Assyrian people didn't go away because their empire ended; there's an identifiable group of them living today. The local past didn't disappear when nations like modern Germany and Italy united out of their former parts. People don't sever their family relationships and traditions at the border. That's just a tribal us/them line of thought convenient mostly for authoritarians and warmongers.

This is why we need to quit reading history books that define our past by nations and wars. Biology, culture and philosophy and technology are not so bounded.

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