The name of Persia conjures up an ancient Middle Eastern kingdom, one of the oldest civilisations in history. Since the height of its power in ancient times, the country was oft fought over but still retained its old moniker all the way until 1935, when it officially became Iran. Today, we mostly think of Persia when speaking of Persian rugs and Persian cats, but its culture is alive and well – unfortunately, continuing unstable international relations (not to mention a certain global pandemic) are keeping Westerners from visiting.
Anyone who’s seen the musical The King and I might wonder where on earth the king of Siam (the real-life King Mongkut, who ruled from 1851 to 1868) actually lived. The answer? Present-day Thailand, whose new name was adopted in 1939. Never colonised by Europeans, Siam was an absolute monarchy; after unrest in the 20th century, Thailand is now a constitutional monarchy. Thanks to its hundreds of islands, clear water and gorgeous coastlines, Thailand is a popular tourist destination today.
You read right: not Russia, Prussia. This country, which encompassed land in central and eastern Europe including present-day Germany and Poland, existed in some form all the way until 1947. The kingdom of Prussia enjoyed much success in the 18th century but started to lose territory in the 19th, until the unification of the German empire placed the Prussian king at its head in 1871. Although it’s a little complicated where Prussia ends and Germany begins, the defeat of the empire and the abolishment of the Prussian monarchy after World War I extinguished its influence. But Prussia continued to exist as a German state until the land was divided up and the name formally dismissed after World War II, erasing it from the map forever. Interestingly, though, the descendants of the defunct monarchy continue to carry their titles – Prince Georg Friedrich Ferdinand of Prussia is the current head of the former ruling family.