Bjørn Berge: Landene som forsvant/Nowhere LandsLandene som forsvant. 1840 – 1970
Published by Spartacus, 2016

A different kind of world history – told through stamps from countries that have been erased from the map

More than 1000 countries have issued their own stamps during the past 175 years since the first “Penny Black” was introduced in England in 1840. Most of them no longer exist. Some of their names will bring back associations, such as Biafra and “famine” and Bhopal and “environmental disaster”. Others, few of us will associate with anything, like Labuan, Tannu Tuva and Fiume. These lost countries have fascinating stories to tell , whether they were short-lived like Eastern Karelia, which lasted only a few weeks during the winter war of 1922, or more tenacious such as the Orange Free State, a Boer Republic which celebrated 50 years as an independent state in the late 1800s.

The book presents fifty of these countries that collapsed. Some of them were independent, while others served as military bridgeheads, bases for raw material or as part of the game between super powers. Traces of some these countries have clear links to the present, such as Hatay, which was formerly a part of Syria and Tripolitania which is currently part of Libya.

The range of countries reflect different aspects of world history during the 19th and 20th centuries, with their ideologies, imperialism, struggle for resources, immigration waves and major and trivial wars. As such, the stamps with their motifs and symbols must be considered as official self-presentations. They were quite precise expressions of the ruling authorities’ desired self-image, positions and ambitions, whether revolutionary or colonial. Besides stamps, the book is based on eyewitness accounts, as well as later historical analyses.

Each vanished country is presented with detailed maps and stamps. Format 24 × 18 cm. World map printed on the endpapers. More than 17 000 copies sold in Norway. Complete English translation available (published by Thames & Hudson).


Portrait of Bjørn Berge
Bjørn Berge

Bjørn Berge (b. 1954) is an architect and researcher. He has written and published numerous articles and books in Norway on architecture and building ecology. In English, he has published The Ecology of Building Materials in two editions: Elsevier Science 2000 and Routledge, 2009. This work is used as a teaching resource at universities in many countries.

Rights sold to Brazil, Czech, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Romania, Sweden, Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Hungary,  Lithuania, UK, USA, Russia, Denmark, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea.