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The decolonization of Asia was the gradual growth of independence movements in Asia, leading ultimately to the retreat of foreign powers and the creation of a number of nation-states in the region. A number of events were catalysts for this shift, most importantly the Second World War. Prior to World War II, some countries (e.g., the Philippines in 1898) had already proclaimed independence.
Asia is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern and Northern Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the continent of Europe and the continental landmass of Afro-Eurasia with both Europe and Africa. Asia covers an area of 44,579,000 square kilometres (17,212,000 sq mi), about 30% of Earth's total land area and 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area. The continent, which has long been home to the majority of the human population, was the site of many of the first civilizations. Asia is notable for not only its overall large size and population, but also dense and large settlements, as well as vast barely populated regions. Its 4.5 billion people constitute roughly 60% of the world's population.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.
The Philippine Declaration of Independence was proclaimed on June 12, 1898 in Cavite II el Viejo, Philippines. With the public reading of the Act of the Proclamation of Independence of the Filipino People, Filipino revolutionary forces under General Emilio Aguinaldo proclaimed the sovereignty and independence of the Philippine Islands from the colonial rule of Spain.
European powers began colonizing Asia in the early 16th century, beginning with the Portuguese seizure of sites, while along the west coast of India, Ceylon and Malacca. In 1511, Portugal established a permanent base in Malacca. In 1565, Spain commenced its colonization of the Philippine Islands, creating a long sea trade route via Mexico to Spain.
Malacca dubbed "The Historic State", is a state in Malaysia located in the southern region of the Malay Peninsula, next to the Strait of Malacca.
The decline of Spain and Portugal in the 17th century paved the way for other European powers, namely the Netherlands, France and England. Portugal would lose influence in all but three of its colonies, Portuguese India, Macau and Timor.
The State of India, also referred as the Portuguese State of India or simply Portuguese India, was a state of the Portuguese Overseas Empire, founded six years after the discovery of a sea route between Portugal and the Indian Subcontinent to serve as the governing body of a string of Portuguese fortresses and colonies overseas.
Portuguese Macau refers to Macau's history from the establishment of Portuguese settlement in mid-16th century to the end of Portuguese colonial rule in 1999. Macau was both the first and last European holding in China.
Portuguese Timor refers to East Timor during the historic period when it was a Portuguese colony that existed between 1702 and 1975. During most of this period, Portugal shared the island of Timor with the Dutch East Indies.
By the end of the 17th century, the Dutch had taken over much of the old Portuguese colonies, and had established a strong presence in present-day Indonesia, with colonies in Aceh, Bantam, Makassar and Jakarta. The Dutch also had trade links with Siam, Japan, China and Bengal.
Aceh is a province of Indonesia, located at the northern end of Sumatra. Its capital and largest city is Banda Aceh. It is close to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India and separated from them by the Andaman Sea. Granted a special autonomous status, Aceh is a religiously conservative territory and the only Indonesian province practicing Sharia law officially. There are ten indigenous ethnic groups in this region, the largest being the Acehnese people, accounting for approximately 80% to 90% of the region's population.
Banten, also written as Bantam, is a small port town located near the western end of Java. It has a secure harbour at the mouth of Banten River that provides a navigable passage for light craft into the island's interior. The town is close to the Sunda Strait through which important ocean-going traffic passes between Java and Sumatra. Formerly Old Banten was the capital of a sultanate in the area, was strategically important and a major centre for trade.
Makassar is the capital of the Indonesian province of South Sulawesi. It is the largest city in the region of Eastern Indonesia and the fifth largest city in Indonesia after Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung, and Medan. From 1971 to 1999, the city was named after one of its subdistricts, Ujung Pandang. The city is located on the southwest coast of the island of Sulawesi, facing the Makassar Strait.
The British had competed with Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch for their interests in Asia since the early 17th century and by the mid-19th century held much of India (via the British East India Company), as well as Burma, Ceylon, Malaya and Singapore. After India's First War of Independence of 1857, Queen Victoria was declared Empress of India, thus solidifying the British rule on the subcontinent. The last British acquisition in Asia was the New Territories of Hong Kong, which was leased from the Qing emperor in 1897, expanding the British colony originally ceded in the Treaty of Nanking in 1842.
The term "British Malaya" loosely describes a set of states on the Malay Peninsula and the island of Singapore that were brought under British control between the 18th and the 20th centuries. Unlike the term "British India", which excludes the Indian princely states, British Malaya is often used to refer to the Malay States under indirect British rule as well as the Straits Settlements that were under the sovereignty of the British Crown.
Singapore, officially the Republic of Singapore, is an island city-state in Southeast Asia. It lies one degree north of the equator, at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, with Indonesia's Riau Islands to the south and Peninsular Malaysia to the north. Singapore's territory consists of one main island along with 62 other islets. Since independence, extensive land reclamation has increased its total size by 23%. The country is known for its transition from a developing to a developed one in a single generation under the leadership of its founder Lee Kuan Yew.
Victoria was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. On 1 May 1876, she adopted the additional title of Empress of India.
The French had little success in India following defeats against the British in the 17th century, though they held onto possessions on the east coast of India (such as Pondicherry and Mahar) until decolonization. The French established their most lucrative and substantial colony in Indochina from 1862, eventually occupying the present-day areas of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia by 1887.
Puducherry, formerly known as Pondicherry, is a union territory in India. It was formed out of four exclaves of former French India, namely Pondichéry, Karikal (Karaikal), Mahé and Yanam (Yanam). It is named after the largest district, Puducherry. Historically known as Pondicherry (Pāṇṭiccēri), the territory changed its official name to Puducherry (Putuccēri) on 20 September 2006.
The Mahar is an Indian community found largely in the state of Maharashtra and neighbouring areas. Most of the Mahar community followed B. R. Ambedkar in converting to Buddhism in the middle of the 20th century. As of 2017, the Mahar caste was designated as a Scheduled Caste in 16 Indian states.
Vietnam, officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula. With an estimated 94.6 million inhabitants as of 2016, it is the 15th most populous country in the world. Vietnam is bordered by China to the north, Laos and Cambodia to the west, part of Thailand to the southwest, and the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia across the South China Sea to the east and southeast. Its capital city has been Hanoi since the reunification of North and South Vietnam in 1976, while its most populous city is Ho Chi Minh City.
Japan's first colony was the island of Taiwan, occupied in 1874 and officially ceded by the Qing emperor in 1894. Japan continued its early imperialism with the annexation of Korea in 1910.
The United States entered the region in 1898 during the Spanish–American War, taking the Philippines as its sole colony through a mock battle in the capital and the purchase of the Philippines from Spain after the declaration of independence and the First Philippine Republic.
The following list shows the colonial powers following the end of World War II in 1945, their colonial or administrative possessions and date of decolonization.
See Burma's colonial era.
Burma was almost completely occupied by the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second World War. Many Burmese fought alongside Japan in the initial stages of the war, though the Burmese Army and most Burmese switched sides in 1945.
A transitional government sponsored by the British government was formed in the years following the Second World War, ultimately leading to Burma's independence in January 1948.
See Cambodia's passage to independence.
Following the capitulation of France and the formation of the Vichy regime, France's Indochinese possessions were given to Japan. While there was some argument that Indochina should not be returned to France, particularly from the United States, Cambodia nevertheless remained under French rule after the end of hostilities.
France had placed Norodom Sihanouk on the throne in 1941, and were hoping for a puppet monarch. They were mistaken however, as the King led the way to Cambodian independence in 1953, taking advantage of the background of the First Indochina War being fought in Vietnam.
See Ceylon and independence.
Ceylon was an important base of operations for the Western Allies during the Second World War. The British gave in to popular pressure for independence and in February 1948, the country won its independence as the Dominion of Ceylon.
Hong Kong was returned to the United Kingdom following its occupation by the Japanese during the Second World War.It was controlled directly by a British governor until the expiry of the hundred-year（99years） lease, which occurred in 1997. From that date the territory was controlled as a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China.
The Philippines unilaterally declared independence from Spain on 12 June 1898 under the leadership of President Emilio Aguinaldo, culminating the 1896 Revolution. Unbeknownst to the newly established government and the Filipino people in general, the United States of America had secretly arranged to purchase the colony along with several other possessions from Spain through the Treaty of Paris that concluded the Spanish–American War. After staging a mock battle in Manila, the Philippine–American War ensued until the Philippine government capitulated in 1902.
The Philippines subsequently underwent successive stages of rule under the United States, first as an unincorporated territory, then as a Commonwealth. It was then occupied by the Japanese during the Second World War. In 1943, Japan granted its short-lived independence to the Philippines and in 1944, the Allied invasion of the Philippines by combined U.S. and Filipino troops began, which resulted in America regaining full control of the nation. In 1946, the United States gave the Philippines its independence.
The "colonial power" and "colonial name" columns are merged when required to denote territories, where current countries are established, that have not been decolonised but achieved independence in different ways.
|Country||Colonial name||Colonial power||Independence declared||First head of state||Independence won through|
|12 June 1898||Emilio Aguinaldo||-|
| Kingdom of Yemen |
Colony and Protectorate of Aden
|1 November 1918|
30 November 1967
| Yahya I |
Qahtan Mohammed al-Shaabi
| World War I |
|19 August 1919||Amanullah Khan||Third Anglo-Afghan War|
|28 February 1922||Fuad I||Egyptian revolution of 1919|
|3 October 1932||Faisal I of Iraq||-|
|22 November 1943||Bechara El Khoury||-|
|30 November 1943||Shukri al-Quwatli||Syrian Revolution|
|27 December 1949||Sukarno||Indonesian National Revolution|
|25 May 1946||Abdullah I||-|
|4 July 1946||Manuel Roxas||-|
|14 August 1947||Liaquat Ali Khan||-|
as part of
|14 August 1947||Liaquat Ali Khan|
|15 August 1947||Jawaharlal Nehru||Indian independence movement|
|4 January 1948||U Nu|
|4 February 1948|
22 February 1972
|14 May 1948||David Ben-Gurion||1948 Palestine war|
|15 August 1945||Syngman Rhee||Korean independence movement|
|15 August 1945||Kim Il-sung|
|9 August 1945||Mao Zedong||Second Sino-Japanese War|
|22 October 1953||Sisavang Vong||-|
|9 November 1953||Norodom Sihanouk|
|1 August 1954|| Hồ Chí Minh |
|First Indochina War|
|31 August 1957|
16 September 1963
|Tuanku Abdul Rahman||Malayan Emergency|
|16 August 1960||Makarios III||-|
|19 June 1961||Abdullah Al-Salim Al-Sabah||-|
|26 January 1650|
| Sultan I bin Saif |
Said bin Taimur
|Night attack on Muscat|
|31 August 1963;|
9 August 1965
|26 July 1965||Muhammad Fareed Didi||-|
|3 September 1971||Ahmad bin Ali Al Thani||-|
|2 December 1971||Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan||-|
|15 August 1971||Isa ibn Salman Al Khalifa||-|
|28 November 1975|
20 May 2002
| Francisco Xavier do Amaral;|
|1 January 1984||Hassanal Bolkiah||-|
|1 July 1997||Tung Chee-hwa||-|
|20 December 1999||Edmund Ho||-|
|10 June 1967;|
15 November 1988;
independence pending due to territorial dispute with Israel
Yasser Arafat ;
| Six-Day War;|
Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty ;
Jordanian disengagement from the West Bank ;
In history, a colony is a territory under the immediate complete political control and occupied by settlers of a state, distinct from the home territory of the sovereign. For colonies in antiquity, city-states would often found their own colonies. Some colonies were historically countries, while others were territories without definite statehood from their inception.
Western imperialism in Asia as presented in this article pertains to Western European entry into what was first called the East Indies. This was sparked early in the 15th century by the search for trade routes to China that led directly to the Age of Discovery, and the introduction of early modern warfare into what was then called the Far East. By the early 16th century the Age of Sail greatly expanded Western European influence and development of the Spice Trade under colonialism. There has been a presence of Western European colonial empires and imperialism in Asia throughout six centuries of colonialism, formally ending with the independence of the Portuguese Empire's last colony East Timor in 2002. The empires introduced Western concepts of nation and the multinational state. This article attempts to outline the consequent development of the Western concept of the nation state.
July is the seventh month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian Calendars and the fourth of seven months to have a length of 31 days. It was named by the Roman Senate in honour of Roman general Julius Caesar, it being the month of his birth. Prior to that, it was called Quintilis, being the fifth month of the 10-month calendar.
Decolonization or decolonisation is the undoing of colonialism, the latter being the process whereby a nation establishes and maintains its domination over one or more other territories. The concept particularly applies to the dismantlement, during the second half of the 20th century, of the colonial empires established prior to World War I throughout the world.
Wars of national liberation or national liberation revolutions are conflicts fought by nations to gain independence. The term is used in conjunction with wars against foreign powers to establish separate sovereign states for the rebelling nationality. From a different point of view, these wars are called insurgencies, rebellions, or wars of independence. Guerrilla warfare or asymmetric warfare is often utilized by groups labeled as national liberation movements, often with support from other states.
The occupation of the Gaza Strip by Egypt occurred between 1948 and October 1956 and again from March 1957 to June 1967. From September 1948, until its dissolution by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1959, the Gaza Strip was officially administered by the All-Palestine Government. Although largely symbolic, the government was recognized by most members of the Arab League. Following its dissolution, Egypt did not annex the Gaza Strip but left it under military rule pending a resolution of the Palestine question.
The decolonisation of Africa took place in the mid-to-late 1950s and 1960s, very suddenly, with little preparation. There was widespread unrest and organised revolts in both Northern and sub-Saharan colonies, especially in French Algeria, Portuguese Angola, the Belgian Congo and British Kenya.
Decolonization of the Americas refers to the process by which the countries in the Americas gained their independence from European rule. Decolonization began with a series of revolutions in the late 18th and early to mid-19th centuries. The status quo then prevailed for more than a century, excepting the independence of Cuba.
This is a non-exhaustive chronology of colonialism-related events, which may reflect political events, cultural events, and important global events that have influenced colonization and decolonization. See also Timeline of imperialism.
The historical phenomenon of colonization is one that stretches around the globe and across time. Modern state global colonialism, or imperialism, began in the 15th century with the "Age of Discovery", led by Portuguese, and then by the Spanish exploration of the Americas, the coasts of Africa, the Middle East, India and East Asia. The Portuguese and Spanish empires were the first global empires because they were the first to stretch across different continents, covering vast territories around the globe. In 1492, notable Genoese (Italian) explorer Christopher Columbus and his Castilian (Spanish) crew discovered the Americas for the Crown of Castile. The phrase "the empire on which the sun never sets" was first used for the Spanish Empire in the 16th century. During the late 16th and 17th centuries, England, France and the Dutch Republic also established their own overseas empires, in direct competition with each other.
The decolonization of Oceania occurred after World War II when nations in Oceania achieved independence by transitioning from European colonial rule to full independence.