10 Most Short-lived Countries

People's Republic of Zanzibar
The deposed Sultan of Zanzibar hangs out with three of his kids as they travel from Manchester to London. Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

No place has a cooler name than the African archipelago known as Zanzibar. Maybe that's why so many different groups have sought to control the islands. Actually, Zanzibar's popularity probably has more to do with its abundant spice harvest, tropical climate, superb beaches and handy trading location off the coast of present day Tanzania. But, you know, cool name, too.

Over the centuries, the Persians, Chinese, Arabs, Portuguese and British have all wielded varying degrees of influence over the islands. In 1963, the UK ceded its hold on the place to a constitutional monarchy under the sultan of Zanzibar. But in January 1964, two political parties joined forces to overthrow the sultan in what became known as the Zanzibar Revolution.

The leader of one of the parties, Abeid Karume, was appointed president of the newly formed People's Republic of Zanzibar. By the end of April, Karume had negotiated a merger with the mainland Tanganyika, forming the new country of Tanzania. The People's Republic of Zanzibar had lasted just 104 days [source: MacIntyre].