Unrecognized states are a reality in the international system today, but vary considerably in their ability to endure over time. This thesis probes why some unrecognized states survive and achieve longevity despite widespread international non-recognition. Utilizing both a ‘most different systems’ and deviant case approach, this study examines two instances of unrecognized statehood—Abkhazia and Somaliland—to explore how these entities have followed very different paths toward longevity. Abkhazia’s route has been more externally driven and typical, relying on a strong external patron (Russia), while Somaliland’s course has (deviantly) been more internally-propelled, relying on strong internal dynamics. The comparison ultimately illustrates that strong internal dynamics can compensate for deficiencies in external support, but external support is nevertheless a requisite for endurance, with external patronage being substituted through the functional equivalents of diaspora support and a weak/failed parent state in the case of Somaliland. Additionally, the comparison draws some key similarities between the two cases—such as the identity-based nature of the conflicts, the difficulty identity cleavages pose for nation building regardless of a civic or ethnic approach, the significance of historical borders and homelands, and the impact of civil war and state collapse—that suggests similar mechanisms and features at play in these cases. Such similarities have the potential to shape future research across the wider population of unrecognized states.