The United States pioneered a unique form of government—semi-autonomous states joined together under a central federal government. Plenty of other places around the world have since tried to emulate the idea, establishing their own “United States.”
The United States of Belgium
Between about 1500 and the early 1800s, Belgium was variously under the control of Burgundy, the Habsburg monarchy, Spain, Italy, Austria, and France. In 1790 Belgians revolted against then-ruling Habsburg emperor Joseph II and established the United States of Belgium. It was short-lived—the Habsburgs regained control by the end of the year and retitled it the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. (Modern-day, independent Belgium emerged in 1830 after splitting from the Netherlands.)
The United States of Colombia
In the early 19th century, Simon Bolivar led several fights for independence across South America, expelling Spain as the dominant power by 1819. Portions of countries that are today Panama, Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Colombia united in various permutations as one nation from 1819 to 1866 under the names Gran Colombia, the Republic of New Granada, the Granadine Confederation, and finally in 1863 as the United States of Colombia. By that point, the federation included only Colombia and Panama. In 1903 Panamanian rebel groups began agitating for independence from Colombia, urged on and financed by American interests who wanted to build a canal across the isthmus of Panama. Panama got its freedom, Colombia got a little smaller, and the U.S. got its canal.
The United States of Brazil
Brazil won its independence from Portugal in 1822. The name “Brazil” (after the brasil tree, harvested for its red dye) had long been used by Portuguese settlers. In 1889, when Brazil became a republic, it adopted as its official name the Republic of the United States of Brazil. In 1964 Brazil’s left-wing president Joao Goulart was overthrown in a military coup after he tried to introduce socialism to Brazil. Seeking to distance itself from the republican and socialist eras, in 1967 the military changed the name of the country to the Federative Republic of Brazil.
The United States of Indonesia
At the end of World War II, the native people of the Dutch East Indies declared independence from the Netherlands, but it took four years of bloody fighting before the Dutch conceded the inevitable and granted independence to the “Republic of the United States of Indonesia,” which consisted of Indonesia and fifteen smaller states created by the Dutch since 1945. In early 1950 the fifteen other states were dissolved and incorporated into Indonesia. With no other states left in the United States, in August 1950, the RUSI was officially dissolved and the Republic of Indonesia was proclaimed a unitary state.
The United States of Stellaland
The Republic of Stellaland was a Boer (Dutch-speaking settler) republic in southern Africa that broke away from British Bechuanaland in 1882. The following year it merged with another breakaway Boer republic, the State of Goshen, to form the United States of Stellaland in the hope of better resisting the British. It didn’t work: In December 1884, the British invaded Stellaland, abolished the republic, and reabsorbed the territory into British Bechuanaland.