"No man steps in the same bathing suit twice."

These were the words of amateur travel agent, Heraclitus.

It's a sentiment that anyone who's made a repeat trip to Europe can emphasise with.

What might have been the Czech Republic on your last visit has inexplicably been renamed Czechia on your return. Those, older travellers among us might even remember it being refereed to as Czechoslovakia.

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History books and Lonely Planet guides are forever being redrawn, which as a traveller can be disconcerting.

Many destinations cease to exist entirely but you can still visit them today, if you know where to look.

Van Diemen's Land

This island is a place so mysterious it was thought to have been a setting for Jonathan Swift's book Gulliver's Travels.

Island Prison: Cape Raoul on Tasmania, formerly Van Diemen's Land. Photo / Getty Images
Island Prison: Cape Raoul on Tasmania, formerly Van Diemen's Land. Photo / Getty Images

By the end of the 1700s, few lands were as untouched as Van Dieman's land off the South East coast of modern day Australia.

The coastline was only circumnavigated by the end of the 18th century. Once discovering it was an island, and there was no escape - the British wasted no time in turning it in to a giant prison.

The penal colony eventually would hold over 7000 prisoners with the rest of the remainder of the population enforcing some part of the remote police state.

Most of these prisoners came from rebellions back in Britain.

There was already a considerable Aboriginal population on the island – but by 1850 the majority of its first people had been butchered, incarcerated and shipped off to prisons elsewhere.

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Naturally this bloodthirsty history had left a stain on the name of Van Diemen's Land.

So in 1856, they settled on a new name. A name which would be more befitting of the natural beauty and the Dutch explorer which first encountered it.

Van Diemen's Land of course is better known as modern day Tasmania.

After the last Aboriginal resident died in 1901, it finally merged with mainland Australia.

Sea airs: The island retreat of Heligoland. Photo / Getty Images
Sea airs: The island retreat of Heligoland. Photo / Getty Images

Heligoland

These two islands in the North Sea have been swapped between pirates, spies and tourists so many times it makes your head spin.

This high turnover of owners owes much to its location - roughly 45 nautical miles (72 km) off the coasts of Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark.

Though distance didn't stop Britain from laying claim to it in 1807.

During the Napoleonic wars it became a base for dispatching spies against French forces.

Though during the peace of 1826 the islands reinvented themselves as a spa and holiday retreat for wealthy Europeans. Visitors from England, Prussia, Poland and even Russia came to bathe and sample the sea airs.

It issued its own stamps in the 1860s for the 2000 strong population to communicate with the outside world. Perhaps it was to increase the sale of holiday postcards?

In a trade more befitting stamp collections than island dependencies – England swapped Heligoland to Germany in exchange for the east African island of Zanzibar after 1890.

During the switch it appears the colony lost an "i" – changing its name to Helgoland.

The tug-o-war continued well into the 20th century, with Britain reclaiming the islands in 1945 only to recede them back to Germany in 1952.

The new world: Hopewell Rocks and Lovers Arch in the once independent New Brunswick. Photo / Getty Images
The new world: Hopewell Rocks and Lovers Arch in the once independent New Brunswick. Photo / Getty Images

New Brunswick

As early colonisers of Canada, the French influence here is unmistakable.

However during a mishmash of skirmishes and exchanges with the Scots the name of this area eventually was compromised on between the 'auld alliance' members as "Nova Scotia", French for new Scotland.

The area of land – sandwiched between the Frenchified Nova Scotia and the inland country of the native Mi'kmaq became known as 'New Brunswick'.

This was thought to be an Anglicisation of new Braunschweig – where King George I grew up.

The New Brunswickians were left to their own devices until 1867 when it became part of Canada proper.

Eastern Karelia: Tucked away in the border land between Finland and Russia. Photo / Getty Images
Eastern Karelia: Tucked away in the border land between Finland and Russia. Photo / Getty Images

Eastern Karelia

In the Arctic tundra wedged between Russia and Finland was once a 31000-square-kilometre country called Eastern Karelia.

One might presume that its autonomy was down to the fact that no-one would notice the small strip of land.

However, the origins are far more dramatic. After the Soviet Revolution of 1917 it was home to a large Finnish speaking population cut off by the redrawn boundaries.

Naturally they rebelled. It took the Red Russians five whole years to crush the resistance, leaving it as a short-lived autonomous state. There was even time in this period - presumably between fighting the Soviets - to draw up an insignia that fetured an angry looking bear.

It was absorbed by the Soviet Union as the Republic of Karelia, now still part of Russia.

Inini: The beautiful island studded coast of what is now French Guiana makes goofing off inevitable. Photo / Getty Images
Inini: The beautiful island studded coast of what is now French Guiana makes goofing off inevitable. Photo / Getty Images

Inini

The coastal country of Inni in South America might have been a great place for a holiday.

The area around Cayenne holds beach districts and a handful of desert islands - and behind it were swathes of jungle which are said to have contained more wildlife per hectare than the whole of Europe put together.

It was envisaged as an administrative district for the rest of what would be inland French Guiana.

Overseeing the gold mining, logging and agriculture inland was all done remotely from this beachside idyll by Ininian bureaucrats. In an area about twice the size of Belgium there were only about 3000 inhabitants.

Unfortunately it seems there was something in the arrangement that meant officials were prone to goofing off on the sands and not much got done.

What few railways and roads were built eventually disintegrated. The blissfully lazy colony was eventually subsumed by French Guiana in 1946 after the Second World War.

Qasr al Farid: Hejaz now Saudi Arabia is a land studded with relics. Photo / Getty Images
Qasr al Farid: Hejaz now Saudi Arabia is a land studded with relics. Photo / Getty Images

Hejaz

In the intervening years between the Ottomans and the birth of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf gave rise to the little known Kingdom of Hejaz.

It lasted from 1916 to 1925 and stretched on the east bank of the Red Sea from the top of the Gulf to Yemen.

Due to the vast expanses of desert and the difficulty of drawing lines in the non-proverbial sand, it's hard to say exactly how large it was – but an estimate is in excess of 155,000 square kilometres. Some of the most important sites held by Hejaz were the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

The country came about during the Arab Revolt with the help of T E Lawrence (aka "Lawrence of Arabia") after the First World War.

The kingdom came to an abrupt end after it was invaded by neighbours to the east, and would form what became Saudi Arabia in 1932.