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Thirteen British colonies on the east coast of North America issued a Declaration of Independence in 1776 Declaration of Independence (1819), by John Trumbull.jpg
Thirteen British colonies on the east coast of North America issued a Declaration of Independence in 1776
Chile, one of several Spanish colonies in South America, issued a Declaration of independence in 1818 JuraIndependencia.jpg
Chile, one of several Spanish colonies in South America, issued a Declaration of independence in 1818

Independence is a condition of a person, nation, country, or state in which its residents and population, or some portion thereof, exercise self-government, and usually sovereignty, over the territory. The opposite of independence is the status of a dependent territory.


Definition of independence

Whether the attainment of is different from revolution has long been contested, and has often been debated over the question of violence as legitimate means to achieving sovereignty. [1] In general, revolutions aim only to redistribute power with or without an element of emancipation, such as in democratization within a state, which as such may remain unaltered. For example, the Mexican Revolution (1917) chiefly refers to a multi-factional conflict that eventually led to a new constitution; it has rarely been used to refer to the armed struggle (1821) against Spain. However, some wars of independence have been described as revolutions, such as the ones in the United States (1783) and Indonesia (1949), while some revolutions that were specifically about a change in the political structure have resulted in breakaway states. Mongolia and Finland, for example, gained their independence during the revolutions occurring in China (1911) and Russia (1917) respectively. Causes for a country or province wishing to seek independence are many, but most can be summed up as a feeling of inequality compared to the dominant power. The means can extend from intendedly peaceful demonstrations like in the case of India (1947), to a violent war like in the case of Algeria (1962).

Distinction between independence and autonomy

Autonomy refers to a kind of independence which has been granted by an overseeing authority that itself still retains ultimate authority over that territory (see Devolution). A protectorate refers to an autonomous region that depends upon a larger government for its protection as an autonomous region.

Declarations of independence

Sometimes, a state wishing to achieve independence from a dominating power will issue a declaration of independence; the earliest surviving example is Scotland's Declaration of Arbroath in 1320, with the most recent example being Azawad's declaration of independence in 2012. Declaring independence and attaining it however, are quite different. A well-known successful example is the U.S. Declaration of Independence issued in 1776. The dates of established independence (or, less commonly, the commencement of revolution), are typically celebrated as a national holiday known as an independence day.

Historical overview

Historically, there have been four major periods of declaring independence:


Examples: Iraq date of independence 1932 (from UK) Taiwan date of Independence August 15, 1945 (from Japan) Zimbabwe 1980 (successor of internationally unrecognized state of Rhodesia (1965-1979))

ContinentNo.Last Country to Gain Independence
Continents vide couleurs.png
54 Flag of South Sudan.svg  South Sudan (2011)
35 Flag of Saint Kitts and Nevis.svg  Saint Kitts and Nevis (1983) [a]
44 [b] Flag of East Timor.svg  East Timor (2002)
50 [b] Flag of Montenegro.svg  Montenegro (2006)
Flag of Kosovo.svg  Kosovo (2008) [c] [3]
14 Flag of Palau.svg  Palau (1994) [d]
N/A de facto condominium international

See also


  1. ^
    Independence from the United Kingdom.
  2. ^ a b
    Part of Transcaucasian Region, at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. Physiographically, Armenia falls entirely in Western Asia, while Georgia and Azerbaijan are mostly in Asia with small portions north of the Caucasus Mountains divide in Europe.
  3. ^
    Partially recognized de facto self-governing entity. It is recognised by 102 UN members the Cook Islands, Niue and Taiwan. Claimed by Serbia as the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija under UN administration.
  4. ^
    An independent state in free association with the United States.

Related Research Articles

Colony Territory under the political control of an overseas state, generally with its own subordinate colonial government

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.

Sovereignty Concept that a state or governing body has the right and power to govern itself without outside interference

Sovereignty is the full right and power of a governing body over itself, without any interference from outside sources or bodies. In political theory, sovereignty is a substantive term designating supreme legitimate authority over some polity. In international law, sovereignty is the exercise of power by a state. De jure sovereignty refers to the legal right to do so; de facto sovereignty refers to the factual ability to do so. This can become an issue of special concern upon the failure of the usual expectation that de jure and de facto sovereignty exist at the place and time of concern, and reside within the same organization.

The right of a people to self-determination is a cardinal principle in modern international law, binding, as such, on the United Nations as authoritative interpretation of the Charter's norms. It states that people, based on respect for the principle of equal rights and fair equality of opportunity, have the right to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status with no interference.

The controversy regarding the political status of Taiwan, sometimes referred to as the Taiwan Issue or Taiwan Strait Issue, or from a Taiwanese perspective as the Mainland Issue, is a result of the Chinese Civil War and the subsequent split of China into the two present-day self-governing entities of the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China.

Federation Political union of partially self-governing territories under a central government

A federation is a political entity characterized by a union of partially self-governing provinces, states, or other regions under a central federal government (federalism). In a federation, the self-governing status of the component states, as well as the division of power between them and the central government, is typically constitutionally entrenched and may not be altered by a unilateral decision of either party, the states or the federal political body. Alternatively, a federation is a form of government in which sovereign power is formally divided between a central authority and a number of constituent regions so that each region retains some degree of control over its internal affairs.

Succession of states is a theory and practice in international relations regarding successor states. A successor state is a sovereign state over a territory and populace that was previously under the sovereignty of another state. The theory has its roots in 19th-century diplomacy. A successor state often acquires a new international legal personality, which is distinct from a continuing state, also known as a continuator, which despite change to its borders retains the same legal personality and possess all its existing rights and obligations.

Diplomatic recognition in international law is a unilateral political act with domestic and international legal consequences whereby a state acknowledges an act or status of another state or government in control of a state. Recognition can be reaccorded either de facto or de jure. Recognition can be a declaration to that effect by the recognizing government or an act of recognition such as entering into a treaty with the other state. A vote by a country in the United Nations in favour of the membership of another country is an implicit recognition of that country by the country so voting, as only states may be members of the UN.

The territorial evolution of the British Empire is considered to have begun with the foundation of the English colonial empire in the late 16th century. Since then, many territories around the world have been under the control of the United Kingdom or its predecessor states

Decolonisation of Africa 1950s–70s independence of African colonies from Western European powers

The decolonisation of Africa took place in the mid-to-late 1950s to 1975, with sudden and radical regime changes on the continent as colonial governments made the transition to independent states; this was often quite unorganized and marred with violence and political turmoil. There was widespread unrest, with organized revolts in both northern and sub-Saharan colonies including the Algerian War in French Algeria, the Angolan War of Independence in Portuguese Angola, the Congo Crisis in the Belgian Congo, and the Mau Mau Uprising in British Kenya.

The politics of Kosovo takes place in a framework of a multi-party parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the President (Presidenti) is the head of state and the Prime Minister (Kryeministri) the head of government. Parliamentary elections are held every four years, the most recent in 2019.

Decolonization of the Americas Process by which the countries in the Americas gained their independence from European rule

Decolonization of the Americas refers to the process by which the countries in the Americas gained their independence from European rule. The American Revolution was the first in the Americas, and the British defeat in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) was a surprising victory against a great power. The French Revolution in Europe followed, and collectively these events had profound effects on the British, Spanish, Portuguese, and French colonies in the Americas. A revolutionary wave followed, resulting in the creation of a number of independent countries in Latin America. The Haitian Revolution lasted from 1791 to 1804 and resulted in the independence of the French slave colony. The Peninsular War with France, which resulted from the Napoleonic occupation of Spain, caused Spanish Creoles in Spanish America to question their allegiance to Spain, stoking independence movements that culminated in various Spanish American wars of independence (1808–33), which were primarily fought between opposing groups of colonists and only secondarily against Spanish forces. At the same time, the Portuguese monarchy relocated to Brazil during Portugal's French occupation. After the royal court returned to Lisbon, the prince regent, Pedro, remained in Brazil and in 1822 successfully declared himself emperor of a newly independent Brazil.

The political status of Kosovo, also known as the Kosovo question, is the subject of a long-running political and territorial dispute between the Serbian government and the Government of Kosovo, stemming from the breakup of Yugoslavia (1991–92) and the ensuing Kosovo War (1998–99). In 1999 the administration of the province was handed on an interim basis to the United Nations under the terms of UNSCR 1244 which ended the Kosovo conflict of that year. That resolution reaffirmed the sovereignty of Serbia over Kosovo but required the UN administration to promote the establishment of 'substantial autonomy and self-government' for Kosovo pending a 'final settlement' for negotiation between the parties.

The 2008 Kosovo declaration of independence was adopted on 17 February 2008 by the Assembly of Kosovo. In a meeting attended by 109 of the total 120 members, the assembly unanimously declared Kosovo to be independent from Serbia, while all 11 representatives of the Serb minority boycotted the proceedings. This minority was found to be common in the northern District of Mitrovica, bordering Serbia. It was the second declaration of independence by Kosovo's Albanian-majority political institutions; the first was proclaimed on 7 September 1990.

Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija Autonomous province in Serbia

The Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija, commonly known as Kosovo and Metohija or Kosovo for short and abbreviated as KiM or Kosmet, refers to the region of Kosovo as defined in the Constitution of Serbia. The territory of the province is disputed between Serbia and the self-proclaimed Republic of Kosovo, the latter of which has de facto control. The region had functioned as part of Serbia for most of the period between 1912 and 1999.

A territory is an administrative division, usually an area that is under the jurisdiction of a state. In most countries, a territory is an organized division of an area that is controlled by a country but is not formally developed into, or incorporated into, a political unit of the country that is of equal status to other political units that may often be referred to by words such as "provinces" or "states". In international politics, a territory is usually either the total area from which a state may extract power resources or any non-sovereign geographic area which has come under the authority of another government; which has not been granted the powers of self-government normally devolved to secondary territorial divisions; or both.

Proto-state political entity which does not represent a fully institutionalized or autonomous sovereign state

A proto-state, also known as a quasi-state, is a political entity that does not represent a fully institutionalized or autonomous sovereign state.

Secession in China

Secession in China refers to several secessionist movements in Greater China, which includes the following states and territories:


  1. Benjamin, Walter (1996) [1921]. Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Volume 1: 1913–1926. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 236–252. ISBN   0-674-94585-9.
  2. David Armitage, The Declaration of Independence in World Context , Organization of American Historians, Magazine of History, Volume 18, Issue 3, Pp. 61–66 (2004)
  3. "Kosovo" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-02-16. Retrieved 30 July 2015.