Decolonization (American English) or decolonisation (British English) 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. Scholars focus especially on the movements in the colonies demanding independence, such as Creole nationalism.
The United Nations Special Committee on Decolonisation has stated that in the process of decolonisation there is no alternative to the coloniser but to allow a process of self-determination, but in practice decolonisation may involve either nonviolent revolution or national liberation wars by pro-independence groups. It may be intramural or involve the intervention of foreign powers acting individually or through international bodies such as the United Nations. Although examples of decolonisation can be found as early as the writings of Thucydides, there have been several particularly active periods of decolonisation in modern times. These include the breakup of the Spanish Empire in the 19th century; of the German, Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, and Russian empires following World War I; of the British, French, Dutch, Japanese, Portuguese, Belgian and Italian colonial empires following World War II; and of the Soviet Union (successor to the Russian Empire) in 1991.
Decolonisation is a political process. In extreme circumstances, there is a war of independence. More often, there is a dynamic cycle where negotiations fail, minor disturbances ensue resulting in suppression by the police and military forces, escalating into more violent revolts that lead to further negotiations until independence is granted. In rare cases, the actions of the pro-independence movements are characterised by nonviolence, with the Indian independence movement led by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi being one of the most notable examples, and the violence comes as active suppression from the occupying forces or as political opposition from forces representing minority local communities who feel threatened by the prospect of independence. For example, there was a war of independence in French Indochina, while in some countries in French West Africa (excluding the Maghreb countries) decolonisation resulted from a combination of insurrection and negotiation. The process is only complete when the de facto government of the newly independent country is recognised as the de jure sovereign state by the community of nations.
Independence is often difficult to achieve without the encouragement and practical support from one or more external parties. The motives for giving such aid are varied: nations of the same ethnic and/or religious stock may sympathise with the people of the country, or a strong nation may attempt to destabilise a colony as a tactical move to weaken a rival or enemy colonising power or to create space for its own sphere of influence; examples of this include British support of the Haitian Revolution against France, and the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, in which the United States warned the European powers not to interfere in the affairs of the newly independent states of the Western Hemisphere.
As world opinion became more pro-independence following World War I, there was an institutionalised collective effort to advance the cause of decolonisation through the League of Nations. Under Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, a number of mandates were created. The expressed intention was to prepare these countries for self-government, but the mandates are often interpreted as a mere redistribution of control over the former colonies of the defeated powers, mainly the German Empire and the Ottoman Empire. This reassignment work continued through the United Nations, with a similar system of trust territories created to adjust control over both former colonies and mandated territories.
In referendums, some colonial populations have chosen to retain their colonial status, such as Gibraltar and French Guiana. There are even examples, such as the Falklands War, in which an imperial power goes to war to defend the right of a colony to continue to be a colony. Colonial powers have sometimes promoted decolonisation in order to shed the financial, military and other burdens that tend to grow in those colonies where the colonial governments have become more benign.
Decolonisation is rarely achieved through a single historical act, but rather progresses through one or more stages of decolonisation, each of which can be offered or fought for: these can include the introduction of elected representatives (advisory or voting; minority or majority or even exclusive), degrees of autonomy or self-rule. Thus, the final phase of decolonisation may, in fact, concern little more than handing over responsibility for foreign relations and security, and soliciting de jure recognition for the new sovereignty. But, even following the recognition of statehood, a degree of continuity can be maintained through bilateral treaties between now equal governments involving practicalities such as military training, mutual protection pacts, or even a garrison and/or military bases.
Beginning with the emergence of the United States in the 1770s, decolonisation took place in the context of Atlantic history, against the background of the American and French revolutions. Decolonisation became a popular movement in many colonies in the 20th century, and a reality after 1945.
The historian William Hardy McNeill, in his famous 1963 book The Rise of the West, appears to have interpreted the post-1945 decline of European empires as paradoxically being due to Westernisation itself, writing that
Although European empires have decayed since 1945, and the separate nation-states of Europe have been eclipsed as centres of political power by the melding of peoples and nations occurring under the aegis of both the American and Russian governments, it remains true that, since the end of World War II, the scramble to imitate and appropriate science, technology, and other aspects of Western culture has accelerated enormously all round the world. Thus the dethronement of western Europe from its brief mastery of the globe coincided with (and was caused by) an unprecedented, rapid Westernisation of all the peoples of the earth.:566
In the same book, McNeill wrote that "The rise of the West, as intended by the title and meaning of this book, is only accelerated when one or another Asian or African people throws off European administration by making Western techniques, attitudes, and ideas sufficiently their own to permit them to do so".:807
Great Britain's Thirteen North American colonies were the first to break from the British Empire in 1776, and were recognised as an independent nation by France in 1778 and Britain in 1783. The United States of America was the first set of European established colonies to achieve independence and establish itself as a nation, and was the first independent settler state in the Americas.
The Haitian Revolution was a slave uprising that began in 1791 in the French colony of Saint-Domingue, on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. In 1804, Haiti secured independence from France as the Empire of Haiti, which later became a republic.
The chaos of the Napoleonic wars in Europe cut the direct links between Spain and its American colonies, allowing for process of decolonisation to begin.
With the invasion of Spain by Napoleon in 1806, the American colonies declared autonomy and loyalty to King Ferdinand VII. The contract was broken and the regions of the Spanish Empire had to decide whether to show allegiance to the Junta of Cadiz (the only territory in Spain free from Napoleon) or have a junta (assembly) of its own. The economic monopoly of the metropolis was the main reason why many countries decided to become independent from Spain. In 1809, the independence wars of Latin America begun with a revolt in La Paz, Bolivia. In 1807 and 1808, the Vice royalty of the River Plate was invaded by the British, after their 2nd defeat a Frenchman called Santiague de Liniers was proclaimed new Viceroy by the local population, and later accepted by Spain. In May 1810 in Buenos Aires, a Junta was created, but in Montevideo it was not recognised by the local government who followed the authority of the Junta of Cadiz, the rivalry between the 2 harbours was the main reason for the distrust between the 2 cities. During the next 15 years, the Spanish and Royalist on one side, and the rebels fought in South America and Mexico. Numerous countries declared their independence. In 1824, the Spanish forces were defeated in the Battle of Ayacucho. The mainland was free and in 1898, Spain lost Cuba and Puerto Rico in the Spanish–American War, Puerto Rico became a Colony of the U.S.A. but Cuba was independent in 1902.
Cyprus was invaded and taken over by the Ottoman Empire in 1570. It was later relinquished by the Ottomans in 1878. The Cypriots expressed their true disdain for Ottoman rule through revolts and nationalist movements. The Ottomans only suppressed these revolts in the harshest of fashion but that only ended up fuelling the revolts and desire for independence. The Cypriots desired to merge with Greece because they felt a close connection with Greece. They were tired of 3 centuries of Turkic rule and openly expressed their desire for enosis. The Cypriots would embrace Greek culture and traditions. They abandoned Ottoman architecture and showed little respect for Ottoman rule. All these acts of defiance could be attributed to decolonisation. When the Cypriots made acts of nationalism, they were participating in a form of decolonisation because they were attempting to remove all trace of Turkic and Muslim influence within their society. The Greek War of Independence had major affects on Cyprus and after the Ottomans had left, Cyprus continued to create a Greek culture they wished to be a part of. Cyprus would continue to create this imagined identity of Greek culture. This can also be a form of imagined human geography because Cyprus used this identity to justify its revolts and nationalist movements.
A number of people (mainly Christians in the Balkans) previously conquered by the Ottoman Empire were able to achieve independence in the 19th century, a process that peaked at the time of the Ottoman defeat in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78.
The Ottoman Empire had failed to raise revenue and a monopoly of effective armed forces. This may have caused the fall of the Ottoman Empire.
In the wake of the 1798 French Invasion of Egypt and its subsequent expulsion in 1801, the commander of an Albanian regiment, Muhammad Ali, was able to gain control of Egypt. Although he was acknowledged by the Sultan in Constantinople in 1805 as his pasha, Muhammad Ali, and eventually his successors, were de facto monarchs of a largely independent state managing its own foreign relations. However, despite this de facto independence, Egypt did remain nominally a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire obliged to pay a hefty annual tribute to the Sultan. Throughout the 'long 19th century', Muhammad Ali would send scores of Azhar scholars to France and other European countries to be educated in the empirical sciences (due to the heavy inferiority complex ingrained from French defeat); however, such scholars would unwittingly participate in their country's intellectual colonisation throughout this century and establish the national public educational system on Secular Humanist (Enlightenment) philosophy and principles and Western culture in general to this day. Upon declaring war on Turkey in November 1914, Britain unilaterally declared the Sultan's rights and title over Egypt abolished and proclaimed its own protectorate over the country.
The Greek War of Independence (1821–1829) was fought to liberate Greece from a three centuries long Ottoman occupation. Independence was secured by the intervention of the British and French navies and the French and Russian armies, but Greece was limited to an area including perhaps only one-third of ethnic Greeks, that later grew significantly with the Megali Idea project. The war ended many of the privileges of the Phanariot Greeks of Constantinople.
Following a failed Bulgarian revolt in 1876, the subsequent Russo-Turkish war ended with the provisional Treaty of San Stefano established a huge new realm of Bulgaria including most of Macedonia and Thrace. The final 1878 Treaty of Berlin allowed the other Great Powers to limit the size of the new Russian client state and even briefly divided this rump state in two, Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia, but the irredentist claims from the first treaty would direct Bulgarian claims through the first and second Balkan Wars and both World Wars.
The independence of the Principality of Montenegro from the Ottoman Empire was recognised at the congress of Berlin in 1878. However, the Montenegrin nation has been de facto independent since 1711 (officially accepted by the Tsardom of Russia by the order of Tsar Petr I Alexeyevich-Romanov. In the period 1795–1798, Montenegro once again claimed independence after the Battle of Krusi. In 1806, it was recognised as a power fighting against Napoleon, meaning that it had a fully mobilised and supplied army (by Russia, through Admiral Dmitry Senyavin at the Bay of Kotor ). In the period of reign of Petar II Petrović-Njegoš, Montenegro was again colonised by Turkey, but that changed with the coming of Knyaz Danilo I, with a totally successful war against Turkey in the late 1850s ending with a decisive victory of the Montenegrin army under Grand Duke Mirko Petrović-Njegoš, brother of Danilo I, at the Battle of Grahovac. The full independence was given to Montenegro, after almost 170 years of fighting the Turks, Bosniaks, Albanians and the French (1806–1814) at the Congress of Berlin.
The emergence of indigenous bourgeois elites was especially characteristic of the British Empire, which seemed less capable (or less ruthless) in controlling political nationalism. Driven by pragmatic demands of budgets and manpower the British made deals with the nationalist elites. Across the empire, the general protocol was to convene a constitutional conference in London to discuss the transition to greater self-government and then independence, submit a report of the constitutional conference to parliament, if approved submit a bill to Parliament at Westminster to terminate the responsibility of the United Kingdom (with a copy of the new constitution annexed), and finally, if approved, issuance of an Order of Council fixing the exact date of independence.
After World War I, several former German and Ottoman territories in the Middle East, Africa, and the Pacific were governed by the UK as League of Nations mandates. Some were administered directly by the UK, and others by British dominions – Nauru and the Territory of New Guinea by Australia, South West Africa by the Union of South Africa, and Western Samoa by New Zealand.
Egypt became independent in 1922, although the UK retained security prerogatives, control of the Suez Canal, and effective control of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. The Balfour Declaration of 1926 declared the British Empire dominions as equals, and the 1931 Statute of Westminster established full legislative independence for them. The equal dominions were six– Canada, Newfoundland, Australia, the Irish Free State, New Zealand, and the Union of South Africa. However, some of the Dominions were already independent de facto, and even de jure and recognised as such by the international community. Thus, Canada was a founding member of the League of Nations in 1919 and served on the Council from 1927 to 1930. That country also negotiated on its own and signed bilateral and multilateral treaties and conventions from the early 1900s onward. Newfoundland ceded self-rule back to London in 1934. Iraq, a League of Nations mandate, became independent in 1932.
In response to a growing Indian independence movement, the UK made successive reforms to the British Raj, culminating in the Government of India Act (1935). These reforms included creating elected legislative councils in some of the Provinces of British India. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, India's independence movement leader, led a peaceful resistance to the British rule. By becoming a symbol of both peace and opposition to British imperialism, many Indians began to view the British as the cause of India's problems leading to a newfound sense of nationalism among its population. With this new wave of Indian nationalism, Gandhi was eventually able to garner the support needed to push back the British and create an independent India in 1947.
Africa was only fully drawn into the colonial system at the end of the 19th century. In the north-east the continued independence of the Empire of Ethiopia remained a beacon of hope to pro-independence activists. However, with the anti-colonial wars of the 1900s (decade) barely over, new modernising forms of African Nationalism began to gain strength in the early 20th-century with the emergence of Pan-Africanism, as advocated by the Jamaican journalist Marcus Garvey (1887–1940) whose widely distributed newspapers demanded swift abolition of European imperialism, as well as republicanism in Egypt. Kwame Nkrumah (1909–1972) who was inspired by the works of Garvey led Ghana to independence from colonial rule.
Independence for the colonies in Africa began with the independence of Sudan in 1956, and Ghana in 1957. All of the British colonies on mainland Africa became independent by 1966, although Rhodesia's unilateral declaration of independence in 1965 was not recognised by the UK or internationally.
In 1947, British India was partitioned into the independent dominions of India and Pakistan. Hundreds of princely states, states ruled by monarchs in treaty of subsidiary alliance with Britain, were integrated into India and Pakistan. India and Pakistan fought several wars over the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. French India was integrated into India between 1950 and 1954, and India annexed Portuguese India in 1961, and the Kingdom of Sikkim in 1975.
Significant violence was involved in several prominent cases of decolonisation of the British Empire; partition was a frequent solution. In 1783, the North American colonies were divided between the independent United States, and British North America, which later became Canada.
The Indian Rebellion of 1857 was a revolt of a portion of the Indian Army. It was characterised by massacres of civilians on both sides. It was not a movement for independence, however, and only a small part of India was involved. In the aftermath, the British pulled back from modernising reforms of Indian society, and the level of organised violence under the British Raj was relatively small. Most of that was initiated by repressive British administrators, as in the Amritsar massacre of 1919, or the police assaults on the Salt March of 1930. Large-scale communicable violence broke out after the British left in 1947, turning India over to the new nations of India and Pakistan.
The independence movement in Ireland and the 19th and early 20th century was marked by occasional outbursts of violence, culminating in the small-scale Easter Rising of 1916 and the much larger Irish War of Independence of 1919 to 1921. It was resolved when London gave independence to the Catholic regions of southern Ireland, and kept control of Protestant Northern Ireland.
Cyprus, which came under full British control in 1914 from the Ottoman Empire, was culturally divided between the majority Greek element (which demanded demanded "enosis" or union with Greece) and the minority Turks. London for decades assumed it needed the island to defend the Suez Canal; but after the Suez crisis of 1956, that became a minor factor, and Greek violence became a more serious issue. Cyprus became an independent country in 1960, but ethnic violence escalated until 1974, when Turkey invaded and partitioned the island. Each side rewrote its own history, blaming the other.
Palestine became a British mandate from the League of Nations, and during the war the British gained support from both sides by making promises both to the Arabs and the Jews. See Balfour Declaration. Decades of enthno—religious violence resulted. The British pulled out, and the mandate was effectively partitioned.
After World War I, the colonised people were frustrated at France's failure to recognise the effort provided by the French colonies (resources, but more importantly colonial troops – the famous tirailleurs). Although in Paris the Great Mosque of Paris was constructed as recognition of these efforts, the French state had no intention to allow self-rule, let alone grant independence to the colonised people. Thus, nationalism in the colonies became stronger in between the two wars, leading to Abd el-Krim's Rif War (1921–1925) in Morocco and to the creation of Messali Hadj's Star of North Africa in Algeria in 1925. However, these movements would gain full potential only after World War II.
After World War I, France administered the former Ottoman territories of Syria and Lebanon, and the former German colonies of Togoland and Cameroon, as League of Nations mandates. Lebanon declared its independence in 1943, and Syria in 1945.
Although France was ultimately a victor of World War II, Nazi Germany's occupation of France and its North African colonies during the war had disrupted colonial rule. On October 27, 1946 France adopted a new constitution creating the Fourth Republic, and substituted the French Union for the colonial empire. However power over the colonies remained concentrated in France, and the power of local assemblies outside France was extremely limited. On the night of March 29, 1947, a nationalist uprising in Madagascar led the French government headed by Paul Ramadier (Socialist) to violent repression: one year of bitter fighting, 11,000–40,000 Malagasy died.
In 1946, the states of French Indochina withdrew from the French Union, leading to the Indochina War (1946–54). Ho Chi Minh, who had been a co-founder of the French Communist Party in 1920 and had founded the Vietminh in 1941, declared independence from France, and led the armed resistance against France's reoccupation of Indochina. Cambodia and Laos became independent in 1953, and the 1954 Geneva Accords ended France's occupation of Indochina, leaving North Vietnam and South Vietnam independent.
In 1956, Morocco and Tunisia gained their independence from France. In 1960 eight independent countries emerged from French West Africa, and five from French Equatorial Africa. The Algerian War of Independence raged from 1954 to 1962. To this day, the Algerian war – officially called a "public order operation" until the 1990s – remains a trauma for both France and Algeria. Philosopher Paul Ricœur has spoken of the necessity of a "decolonisation of memory", starting with the recognition of the 1961 Paris massacre during the Algerian war, and the decisive role of African and especially North African immigrant manpower in the Trente Glorieuses post–World War II economic growth period. In the 1960s, due to economic needs for post-war reconstruction and rapid economic growth, French employers actively sought to recruit manpower from the colonies, explaining today's multiethnic population.
The New Imperialism period of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which included the scramble for Africa and the Opium Wars, marked the zenith of European colonisation. It also accelerated the trends that would end colonialism. The extraordinary material demands of the conflict had spread economic change across the world (notably inflation), and the associated social pressures of "war imperialism" created both peasant unrest and a burgeoning middle class.
Economic growth created stakeholders with their own demands, while racial issues meant these people clearly stood apart from the colonial middle-class and had to form their own group. The start of mass nationalism, as a concept and practice, would fatally undermine the ideologies of imperialism.
There were, naturally, other factors, from agrarian change (and disaster – French Indochina), changes or developments in religion (Buddhism in Burma, Islam in the Dutch East Indies, marginally people like John Chilembwe in Nyasaland), and the impact of the 1930s Great Depression.
The Great Depression, despite the concentration of its impact on the industrialised world, was also exceptionally damaging in the rural colonies. Agricultural prices fell much harder and faster than those of industrial goods. From around 1925 until World War II, the colonies suffered. The colonial powers concentrated on domestic issues, protectionism and tariffs, disregarding the damage done to international trade flows. The colonies, almost all primary "cash crop" producers, lost the majority of their export income and were forced away from the "open" complementary colonial economies to "closed" systems. While some areas returned to subsistence farming (British Malaya) others diversified (India, West Africa), and some began to industrialise. These economies would not fit the colonial straitjacket when efforts were made to renew the links. Further, the European-owned and -run plantations proved more vulnerable to extended deflation than native capitalists, reducing the dominance of "white" farmers in colonial economies and making the European governments and investors of the 1930s co-opt indigenous elites – despite the implications for the future. Colonial reform also hastened their end; notably the move from non-interventionist collaborative systems towards directed, disruptive, direct management to drive economic change. The creation of genuine bureaucratic government boosted the formation of indigenous bourgeoisie.
A former colony itself, the United States approached imperialism differently from the other Powers. Much of its energy and rapidly expanding population was directed westward across the North American continent against English and French claims, the Spanish Empire and Mexico. The Native Americans were sent to reservations, often unwillingly. With support from Britain, its Monroe Doctrine reserved the Americas as its sphere of interest, prohibiting other states (particularly Spain) from recolonising the newly independent polities of Latin America. However, France, taking advantage of the American government's distraction during the Civil War, intervened militarily in Mexico and set up a French-protected monarchy. Spain took the step to occupy the Dominican Republic and restore colonial rule. The Union victory in the Civil War in 1865 forced both France and Spain to accede to American demands to evacuate those two countries. America's only African colony, Liberia, was formed privately and achieved independence early; Washington unofficially protected it. By 1900 the US advocated an Open Door Policy and opposed the direct division of China.
After 1898 direct intervention expanded in Latin America. In 1867 the United States purchased Russian America from the tsar and annexed Hawaii in 1898. It added most of Spain's remaining colonies in 1898-99. Deciding not to annex Cuba outright, the U.S. established it as a client state with obligations including the perpetual lease of Guantánamo Bay to the U.S. Navy. The attempt of the first governor to void the island's constitution and remain in power past the end of his term provoked a rebellion that provoked a reoccupation between 1906 and 1909, but this was again followed by devolution. Similarly, the McKinley administration, despite prosecuting the Philippine–American War against a native republic, set out that the Territory of the Philippine Islands was eventually granted independence. In 1917, the US purchased the Danish West Indies (later renamed the US Virgin Islands) from Denmark and Puerto Ricans became full U.S. citizens that same year. The US government declared Puerto Rico the territory was no longer a colony and stopped transmitting information about it to the United Nations Decolonisation Committee. As a result, the UN General Assembly removed Puerto Rico from the U.N. list of non-self-governing territories. Four referenda showed little support for independence, but much interest in statehood such as Hawaii and Alaska received in 1959.
The Monroe Doctrine was expanded by the Roosevelt Corollary in 1904, providing that the United States had a right and obligation to intervene "in flagrant cases of such wrongdoing or impotence" that a nation in the Western Hemisphere became vulnerable to European control. In practice, this meant that the United States was led to act as a collections agent for European creditors by administering customs duties in the Dominican Republic (1905–1941), Haiti (1915–1934), and elsewhere. The intrusiveness and bad relations this engendered were somewhat checked by the Clark Memorandum and renounced by President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Good Neighbour Policy."
After 1947, the U.S. poured tens of billions of dollars into the Marshall Plan, and other grants and loans to Europe and Asia to rebuild the world economy. Washington pushed hard to accelerate decolonisation and bring an end to the colonial empires of its Western allies, most importantly during the 1956 Suez Crisis, but American military bases were established around the world and direct and indirect interventions continued in Korea, Indochina, Latin America (inter alia, the 1965 occupation of the Dominican Republic), Africa, and the Middle East to oppose Communist invasions and insurgencies. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the United States has been far less active in the Americas, but invaded Afghanistan and Iraq following the September 11 attacks in 2001, establishing army and air bases in Central Asia.
Before World War I, Japan had gained several substantial colonial possessions in East Asia such as Taiwan (1895) and Korea (1910). Japan joined the allies in World War I, and after the war acquired the South Pacific Mandate, the former German colony in Micronesia, as a League of Nations Mandate. Pursuing a colonial policy comparable to those of European powers, Japan settled significant populations of ethnic Japanese in its colonies while simultaneously suppressing indigenous ethnic populations by enforcing the learning and use of the Japanese language in schools. Other methods such as public interaction, and attempts to eradicate the use of Korean, Hokkien, and Hakka among the indigenous peoples, were seen to be used. Japan also set up the Imperial Universities in Korea (Keijō Imperial University) and Taiwan (Taihoku Imperial University) to compel education.
In 1931, Japan seized Manchuria from the Republic of China, setting up a puppet state under Puyi, the last Manchu emperor of China. In 1933 Japan seized the Chinese province of Jehol, and incorporated it into its Manchurian possessions. The Second Sino-Japanese War started in 1937, and Japan occupied much of eastern China, including the Republic's capital at Nanjing. An estimated 20 million Chinese died during the 1931–1945 war with Japan.
In December 1941, the Japanese Empire joined World War II by invading the European and US colonies in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, including French Indochina, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Burma, Malaya, Indonesia, Portuguese Timor, and others. Following its surrender to the Allies in 1945, Japan was deprived of all its colonies. The Soviet Union declared war on Japan in August 1945, and shortly after occupied and annexed the southern Kuril Islands, which Japan still claims.
The Russian, German, and Austro-Hungarian empires collapsed at the end of World War I, and were replaced by republics. Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Czechoslovakia became independent countries. Yugoslavia and Romania expanded into former Austro-Hungarian territory. The Soviet Union succeeded the Russian empire in the remainder if its former territory, and Germany, Austria, and Hungary were reduced in size.
In 1938, Nazi Germany annexed Austria and part of Czechoslovakia, and in 1939, Nazi Germany and the USSR concluded a pact to occupy the countries that lie between them; the USSR occupied Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, and Germany and the USSR split Poland in two. The occupation of Poland started World War II. Germany attacked the USSR in 1941. The USSR allied with the UK and USA, and emerged as one of the victors of the war, occupying most of central and eastern Europe.
In the United States, the two major parties were divided on the acquisition of the Philippines, which became a major campaign issue in 1900. The Republicans, who favoured permanent acquisition, won the election, but after a decade or so, Republicans turned their attention to the Caribbean, focusing on building the Panama Canal. President Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat in office from 1913 to 1921, ignored the Philippines, and focused his attention on Mexico and Caribbean nations. By the 1920s, the peaceful efforts by the Filipino leadership to pursue independence proved convincing. When the Democrats returned to power in 1933, they worked with Filipino to plan a smooth transition to independence. It was scheduled for 1946 by Tydings–McDuffie Act of 1934. In 1935, the Philippines transitioned out of territorial status, controlled by an appointed governor, to the semi-independent status of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. Its constitutional convention wrote a new constitution, which was approved by Washington and went into effect, with an elected governor Manuel L. Quezon and legislature. Foreign Affairs remained under American control. The Philippines built up a new army, under general Douglas MacArthur, who took leave from his U.S. Army position to take command of the new army reporting to Quezon. The Japanese occupation 1942 to 1945 disrupted but did not delay the transition. It took place on schedule in 1946 as Manuel Roxas took office as president.
Although a small, poor country, Portugal had one of the oldest and largest of the empires. The British had long protected it, and by 1945 it regained possessions it had lost to the Japanese. Portugal was an authoritarian state, with no taste for democracy at home or in its colonies. There was a fierce determination to maintain possession at all costs, and aggressively defeat any insurgencies. However, Portugal was helpless when India seized Goa in 1961. In 1961, nationalist forces began organising in Portugal, and the revolts spread to Mozambique and Guinea Bissau. Lisbon escalated its repressive measures, and setting up strategic hamlets. Deeply distrustful of the natives, Portugal sent another 300,000 European settlers into Angola by 1974. In 1974, left-wing revolution inside Portugal destroyed the old system and encouraged pro-Soviet elements to attempt to seize control in the colonies. The result was a very long and extremely difficult multi-party Civil War in Angola, and lesser insurrections in Mozambique.
Belgium is a small, rich European country that had an empire forced upon it by international demand in 1908 in response to the malfeasance of its King Leopold in greatly mistreating the Congo. It added Rwanda and Burundi as League of Nations mandates from the former German Empire in 1919. The colonies remained independent during the war, while Belgium itself was cruelly occupied by the Germans. There was no serious planning for independence, and exceedingly little training or education provided. The Belgian Congo was especially rich, and many Belgian businessmen lobbied hard to maintain control. Local revolts grew in power and finally, the Belgian king suddenly announced in 1959 that independence was on the agenda – and it was hurriedly arranged in 1960, for country bitterly and deeply divided on social and economic grounds.
The Netherlands, a small rich country in Western Europe, had spent centuries building up its empire. By 1940 it consisted mostly of the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). Its massive oil reserves provided about 14 percent of the Dutch national product and supported a large population of ethnic Dutch government officials and businessmen in Jakarta and other major cities. The Netherlands was overrun and almost starved to death by the Nazis during the war, and Japan sank the Dutch fleet in seizing the East Indies. In 1945 the Netherlands could not regain these islands on its own; it did so by depending on British military help and American financial grants. By the time Dutch soldiers returned, an independent government under Sukarno, originally set up by the Japanese, was in power. The Dutch in the East Indies, and at home, were practically unanimous (except for the Communists) that Dutch power and prestige and wealth depended on an extremely expensive war to regain the islands. Compromises were negotiated, were trusted by neither side. When the Indonesian Republic successfully suppressed a large-scale communist revolt, the United States realised that it needed the nationalist government as an ally in the Cold War. Dutch possession was an obstacle to American Cold War goals, so Washington forced the Dutch to grant full independence. A few years later, Sukarno seized all Dutch properties and expelled all ethnic Dutch—over 300,000—as well as several hundred thousand ethnic Indonesians who supported the Dutch cause. In the aftermath, the Netherlands prospered greatly in the 1950s and 1960s but nevertheless public opinion was bitterly hostile to the United States for betrayal. Washington remained baffled why the Dutch were so inexplicably enamoured of an obviously hopeless cause.
When the United Nations was formed in 1945, it established trust territories. These territories included the League of Nations mandate territories which had not achieved independence by 1945, along with the former Italian Somaliland. The Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands was transferred from Japanese to US administration. By 1990 all but one of the trust territories had achieved independence, either as independent states or by merger with another independent state; the Northern Mariana Islands elected to become a commonwealth of the United States.
The term "Third World" was coined by French demographer Alfred Sauvy in 1952, on the model of the Third Estate, which, according to Abbé Sieyès, represented everything, but was nothing: "...because at the end this ignored, exploited, scorned Third World like the Third Estate, wants to become something too" (Sauvy). The emergence of this new political entity, in the frame of the Cold War, was complex and painful. Several tentative were made to organise newly independent states in order to oppose a common front towards both the US's and the USSR's influence on them, with the consequences of the Sino-Soviet split already at works. Thus, the Non-Aligned Movement constituted itself, around the main figures of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, Sukarno, the Indonesian president, Josip Broz Tito the Communist leader of Yugoslavia, and Gamal Abdel Nasser, head of Egypt who successfully opposed the French and British imperial powers during the 1956 Suez crisis. After the 1954 Geneva Conference which put an end to the First Indochina War, the 1955 Bandung Conference gathered Nasser, Nehru, Tito, Sukarno, the leader of Indonesia, and Zhou Enlai, Premier of the People's Republic of China. In 1960, the UN General Assembly voted the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. The next year, the Non-Aligned Movement was officially created in Belgrade (1961), and was followed in 1964 by the creation of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) which tried to promote a New International Economic Order (NIEO). The NIEO was opposed to the 1944 Bretton Woods system, which had benefited the leading states which had created it, and remained in force until 1971 after the United States' suspension of convertibility from dollars to gold. The main tenets of the NIEO were:
The UNCTAD however wasn't very effective in implementing this New International Economic Order (NIEO), and social and economic inequalities between industrialised countries and the Third World kept on growing throughout the 1960s until the 21st century. The 1973 oil crisis which followed the Yom Kippur War (October 1973) was triggered by the OPEC which decided an embargo against the US and Western countries, causing a fourfold increase in the price of oil, which lasted five months, starting on October 17, 1973, and ending on March 18, 1974. OPEC nations then agreed, on January 7, 1975, to raise crude oil prices by 10%. At that time, OPEC nations – including many who had recently nationalised their oil industries – joined the call for a New International Economic Order to be initiated by coalitions of primary producers. Concluding the First OPEC Summit in Algiers they called for stable and just commodity prices, an international food and agriculture program, technology transfer from North to South, and the democratisation of the economic system. But industrialised countries quickly began to look for substitutes to OPEC petroleum, with the oil companies investing the majority of their research capital in the US and European countries or others, politically sure countries. The OPEC lost more and more influence on the world prices of oil.
The second oil crisis occurred in the wake of the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Then, the 1982 Latin American debt crisis exploded in Mexico first, then Argentina and Brazil, which proved unable to pay back their debts, jeopardising the existence of the international economic system.
The decolonisation of North Africa, and sub- Saharan Africa took place in the mid-to-late 1950s, very suddenly, with little preparation. There was widespread unrest and organised revolts, especially in French Algeria, Portuguese Angola, the Belgian Congo and British Kenya.
In 1945, Africa had four independent countries – Egypt, Ethiopia, Liberia, and South Africa.
After Italy's defeat in World War II, France and the UK occupied the former Italian colonies. Libya became an independent kingdom in 1951. Eritrea was merged with Ethiopia in 1952. Italian Somaliland was governed by the UK, and by Italy after 1954, until its independence in 1960.
By 1977 European colonial rule in mainland Africa had ended. Most of Africa's island countries had also become independent, although Réunion and Mayotte remain part of France. However the black majorities in Rhodesia and South Africa were disenfranchised until 1979 in Rhodesia, which became Zimbabwe-Rhodesia that year and Zimbabwe the next, and until 1994 in South Africa. Namibia, Africa's last UN Trust Territory, became independent of South Africa in 1990.
Most independent African countries exist within prior colonial borders. However Morocco merged French Morocco with Spanish Morocco, and Somalia formed from the merger of British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland. Eritrea merged with Ethiopia in 1952, but became an independent country in 1993.
Most African countries became independent as republics. Morocco, Lesotho, and Swaziland remain monarchies under dynasties that predate colonial rule. Egypt and Libya gained independence as monarchies, but both countries' monarchs were later deposed, and they became republics.
African countries cooperate in various multi-state associations. The African Union includes all 55 African states. There are several regional associations of states, including the East African Community, Southern African Development Community, and Economic Community of West African States, some of which have overlapping membership.
Japan expanded its occupation of Chinese territory during the 1930s, and occupied Southeast Asia during World War II. After the war, the Japanese colonial empire was dissolved, and national independence movements resisted the re-imposition of colonial control by European countries and the United States.
The Republic of China regained control of Japanese-occupied territories in Manchuria and eastern China, as well as Taiwan. Only Hong Kong and Macau remained in outside control.
The Netherlands recognised Indonesia's independence in 1949, after a four-year independence struggle. Indonesia annexed Netherlands New Guinea in 1963, and Portuguese Timor in 1975. In 2002, former Portuguese Timor became independent as East Timor.
The following list shows the colonial powers following the end of hostilities in 1945, and their colonial or administrative possessions. The year of decolonisation is given chronologically in parentheses.
Italy had occupied the Dodecanese islands in 1912, but Italian occupation ended after World War II, and the islands were integrated into Greece. British rule ended in Cyprus in 1960, and Malta in 1964, and both islands became independent republics.
Soviet control of its non-Russian member republics weakened rapidly as movements for democratisation and self-government gained strength during 1990 and 1991. The Soviet coup d'état attempt in August 1991 began the breakup of the USSR, which formally ended on December 26, 1991. The Republics of the Soviet Union become sovereign states—Armenia, Azerbaijan, Byelorussia (later Belarus), Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Historian Robert Daniels says, "A special dimension that the anti-Communist revolutions shared with some of their predecessors was decolonisation." Moscow's policy had long been to settle ethnic Russians in the non-Russian republics. After independence, minority rights for Russian-speakers has been an issue; see Russians in the Baltic states.
The decolonisation of Oceania occurred after World War II when nations in Oceania achieved independence by transitioning from European colonial rule to full independence.
After independence, the new states needed to establish or strengthen the institutions of a sovereign state – governments, laws, a military, schools, administrative systems, and so on. The amount of self-rule granted prior to independence, and assistance from the colonial power and/or international organisations after independence, varied greatly between colonial powers, and between individual colonies.
Except for a few absolute monarchies, most post-colonial states are either republics or constitutional monarchies. These new states had to devise constitutions, electoral systems, and other institutions of representative democracy.
Nation-building is the process of creating a sense of identification with, and loyalty to, the state. Nation-building projects seek to replace loyalty to the old colonial power, and/or tribal or regional loyalties, with loyalty to the new state. Elements of nation-building include creating and promoting symbols of the state like a flag and an anthem, monuments, official histories, national sports teams, codifying one or more indigenous official languages, and replacing colonial place-names with local ones. Nation-building after independence often continues the work began by independence movements during the colonial period.
Decolonisation is not an easy matter in colonies where a large population of settlers lives, particularly if they have been there for several generations. This population, in general, was often repatriated, often losing considerable property. For instance, the decolonisation of Algeria by France was particularly uneasy due to the large European population (see also pied noir), which largely evacuated to France when Algeria became independent. In Zimbabwe, former Rhodesia, president Robert Mugabe has, starting in the 1990s, targeted white African farmers and forcibly seized their property. Other ethnic minorities that are also the product of colonialism may pose problems as well. A large Indian community lived in Uganda – as in most of East Africa – as a result of Britain colonising both India and East Africa. As many Indians had considerable wealth Idi Amin expelled them for domestic political gain.
Newly independent states also had to develop independent economic institutions – a national currency, banks, companies, regulation, tax systems, etc.
Many colonies were serving as resource colonies which produced raw materials and agricultural products, and as a captive market for goods manufactured in the colonising country. Many decolonised countries created programs to promote industrialisation. Some nationalised industries and infrastructure, and some engaged in land reform to redistribute land to individual farmers or create collective farms.
Some decolonised countries maintain strong economic ties with the former colonial power. The CFA franc is a currency shared by 14 countries in West and Central Africa, mostly former French colonies. The CFA franc is guaranteed by the French treasury.
After independence, many countries created regional economic associations to promote trade and economic development among neighbouring countries, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the Gulf Cooperation Council.
John Kenneth Galbraith argues that the post–World War II decolonisation was brought about for economic reasons. In A Journey Through Economic Time, he writes:
"The engine of economic well-being was now within and between the advanced industrial countries. Domestic economic growth – as now measured and much discussed – came to be seen as far more important than the erstwhile colonial trade.... The economic effect in the United States from the granting of independence to the Philippines was unnoticeable, partly due to the Bell Trade Act, which allowed American monopoly in the economy of the Philippines. The departure of India and Pakistan made small economic difference in the United Kingdom. Dutch economists calculated that the economic effect from the loss of the great Dutch empire in Indonesia was compensated for by a couple of years or so of domestic post-war economic growth. The end of the colonial era is celebrated in the history books as a triumph of national aspiration in the former colonies and of benign good sense on the part of the colonial powers. Lurking beneath, as so often happens, was a strong current of economic interest – or in this case, disinterest."
In general, the release of the colonised caused little economic loss to the colonisers. Part of the reason for this was that major costs were eliminated while major benefits were obtained by alternate means. Decolonisation allowed the coloniser to disclaim responsibility for the colonised. The coloniser no longer had the burden of obligation, financial or otherwise, to their colony. However, the coloniser continued to be able to obtain cheap goods and lobar as well as economic benefits (see Suez Canal Crisis) from the former colonies. Financial, political and military pressure could still be used to achieve goals desired by the coloniser. Thus decolonisation allowed the goals of colonisation to be largely achieved, but without its burdens.
Due to a common history and culture, former colonial powers created institutions which more loosely associated their former colonies. Membership is voluntary, and in some cases can be revoked if a member state loses some objective criteria (usually a requirement for democratic governance). The organisations serve cultural, economic, and political purposes between the associated countries, although no such organisation has become politically prominent as an entity in its own right.
|Former Colonial Power||Organisation||Founded|
|United Kingdom||Commonwealth of Nations||1931|
|Spain & Portugal||Latin Union||1954|
|Organisation of Ibero-American States||1991|
|Portugal||Community of Portuguese Language Countries||1996|
|Russia||Commonwealth of Independent States||1991|
|Freely Associated States||1982|
|Netherlands||De Nederlandse Unie||1949|
|De Nederlandse Taalunie||1980|
A non-exhaustive list of assassinated leaders would include:
This list includes formerly non-self-governing territories, such as colonies, protectorates, condominia, and leased territories. Changes in status of autonomy leading up to and after independence are not listed, and some dates of independence may be disputed. For details, see each national history.
|1776||Great Britain||United States||Thirteen colonies of British America declare their independence a year into a general insurrection. Recognised by Great Britain in 1783 at the Treaty of Paris.|
|1804||France||Haiti||After initially revolting only to restore French control, Saint-Domingue declares its independence as Haiti. Recognised by France in 1825 in exchange for a ₣150 million indemnity, financed through French banks.|
|1810||Spain||West Florida (today part of the United States)||West Florida declares independence, but is almost immediately annexed by the United States as part of Orleans Territory under its claims from the Louisiana Purchase. Annexation recognised by Spain in 1819.|
|1811||Spain||Paraguay||Paraguay achieves independence. Recognised by Spain in 1880.|
|Venezuela||Venezuela declares its independence. During its revolution, it joins Gran Colombia, before seceding to achieve independence in 1830.|
|Gran Colombia (today Colombia and Panama)||Cartagena declares its independence. Cundinamarca and the United Provinces of New Granada followed suit in 1813. Briefly retaken by Spain, saved by Simon Bolivar and united as Colombia in 1821. Panama seceded 1903.|
|1815||Spain||Uruguay||The Federal League declares its independence of the restored Spanish crown, after having successfully revolted against Napoleonic Spain in 1811. Attacked by Portugal, some provinces united with the future Argentina; others, after a protracted struggle, successfully formed Uruguay in 1828. Recognised by Spain in 1870.|
|1816||Spain||Argentina||The United Provinces of South America formally declare their independence of the restored Spanish crown, after having successfully revolted against Napoleonic Spain in its name in 1810. Became Argentina in 1826. Recognised by Spain in 1859.|
|1818||Spain||Chile||Chile declares its independence of the restored crown, after having unsuccessfully revolted against Napoleonic Spain in its name in 1810. Recognised by the Spanish in 1844.|
|1819||Spain||East Florida (today part of the United States)||The Adams-Onís Treaty cedes Florida to the United States in exchange for US cession of its claims to Texas under the Louisiana Purchase and in exchange for settling $5 million of its residents' claims against Spain.|
|1821||Spain||Mexico||Following a failed liberal insurrection in New Spain, the colony declares its independence as the Mexican Empire after a liberal mutiny succeeds in Spain. Recognised by Spain in 1836. Texas independent in 1836, annexed to the United States in 1845. Upper California and New Mexico lost to the United States in 1848.|
|Central America (today Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, and part of Mexico)||Chiapas and then all of Guatemala declares its independence as part of the Mexican Empire. Independent from Mexico in 1823 as the Federal Republic of Central America. Divided into Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Guatemala in 1838; remnant renamed El Salvador in 1841.|
|Dominican Republic||Santo Domingo declares independence as Spanish Haiti, requests union with Gran Colombia, and is swiftly annexed by Haiti. It will achieve independence in 1844 only to restore Spanish rule in 1861.|
|Peru||A Chilean expeditionary force declares the independence of Peru. Bolivia formed from Upper Peru in 1825. Recognised by Spain in 1879.|
|Ottoman Empire||Greece||Greece revolts. Recognised by the Porte in 1832 in the Treaty of Constantinople.|
|1822||Spain||Ecuador||Quito declares independence as a part of Gran Colombia. Independent from Colombia as Ecuador in 1830. Recognised by Spain in 1840.|
|Portugal||Brazil||Brazil, long the seat of the Portuguese royal government, declares independence under a rogue prince after the king returns to Lisbon. Recognised by Portugal in 1825.|
|1847||United States||Liberia||Liberia declares its independence as an organised nation. Independence was officially recognised by the United States in 1862|
|1852||Ottoman Empire||Montenegro||Montenegro declares its independence. Recognised in 1878 at the Congress of Berlin. Voluntarily united with Serbia as Yugoslavia in 1918.|
|1864||United Kingdom||Ionian Islands (today part of Greece)||The United States of the Ionian Islands, a majority Greek protectorate, peaceably united with modern Greece by the Treaty of London.|
|1865||Spain||Dominican Republic||Santo Domingo regains independence as the Dominican Republic after four years as a restored colony.|
|1867||United Kingdom||Canada||Britain grants internal autonomy to Canada, while keeping control of foreign policy. Britain retained legal powers over Canada until 1931, and a role in Canada constitutional law until 1982.|
|1869||Ottoman Empire||Serbia||Serbia declares its full independence from the Ottoman Empire. Recognised in 1878 at the Congress of Berlin.|
|1877||Ottoman Empire||Romania||The United Principalities of Romania declare their independence. Recognised in 1878 at the Congress of Berlin.|
|1898||Spain||Cuba, Philippines||The United States (barred from annexing Cuba itself by the Teller Amendment) forces Spain to abjure its own claims to the island in the Treaty of Paris ending the Spanish–American War. Various other Spanish colonies are purchased for $20 million, including the Philippines, causing an immediate backlash among the Philippine revolutionaries who have been fighting for independence since 1896. The Philippine Republic would fall to the United States in 1901 following the capture of President Emilio Aguinaldo. In 1935, the Insular Government over the Philippines was replaced with the Commonwealth.|
|1900||United Kingdom||Australia||Britain grants internal autonomy to Australia, while keeping control of foreign policy. Britain retained legal powers over Australia until 1942, and shared a role in Australia constitutional law until 1986.|
|1902||United States||Cuba||Cuba granted independence. Guantanamo Bay is leased in perpetuity as a US Naval base.|
|1908||Ottoman Empire||Bulgaria||Bulgaria, largely autonomous since the Congress of Berlin, declares itself fully independent of the Ottoman Empire.|
|1910||United Kingdom||South Africa||Britain grants internal autonomy to South Africa, while keeping control of foreign policy. Britain retained legal powers over South Africa until 1931, and shared a head of state until 1961.|
|1912||Ottoman Empire||Albania||Albania declares independence. Recognised in the 1913 Treaty of London.|
|1916||Russia||Poland||The independence of Russian Poland as a new kingdom is proclaimed by occupying German and Austro-Hungarian forces. Recognised by Soviet Russia in the 1918 Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Absorbed Polish regions from Germany, Austria, and Hungary following World War I and from Soviet Russia and Soviet Ukraine after the Polish-Soviet War.|
|1917||Russia||Finland||Finland declares its independence. Recognised in the 1918 Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, although Karelia remained disputed.|
|Crimea (today de jure part of Ukraine, de facto part of Russia)||Crimean People's Republic declares independence but Crimean Tatar forces hold out less than a month against the Bolsheviks.|
|Idel-Ural (today part of Russia)||Volga Tatars declare independence of the Idel-Ural State; other ethnic groups including Volga Germans and Bashkirs join them. The republic was crushed by the Bolsheviks a few months later.|
|Kazakhstan||Kazakhs declare independence of the Alash Autonomy. This lasted for less than three years before being defeated by the Bolsheviks.|
|1918||Russia||Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia||The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, the Republic of Georgia and the Republic of Armenia declare independence on May 26–28. All three would be conquered by the Red Army in 1920–1921.|
|Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania||Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania declare independence. All three were initially able to secure their independence by 1920; however, on 1940, all three were invaded by the Soviet Union and were later annexed.|
|Austria-Hungary||Czechoslovakia (today the Czech Republic and Slovakia)||Bohemia, Moravia, and sections of Silesia, Galicia, and Hungary declare their independence as Czechoslovakia. Recognised in the Treaty of Trianon in 1920. Slovakia independent from 1939 to 1945. Carpathian Ruthenia independent in 1939, eventually annexed to Ukraine. Secession of Slovakia in 1993.|
|State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs (today Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina)||Croatia-Slavonia and Dalmatia declare their independence as the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs and swiftly unites with Serbia as the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes which later became Yugoslavia.|
|Denmark||Iceland||After the signing of the Danish–Icelandic Act of Union, Iceland becomes a sovereign state in personal union with Denmark.|
|1919||United Kingdom||Afghanistan||End of the protectorate over Afghanistan, when the United Kingdom accepts the presence of a Soviet ambassador in Kabul.|
|1920||Ottoman Empire||Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine (today Israel and Palestine)||The San Remo conference establishes League of Nations mandates from Ottoman Mesopotamia and Syria. The 1920 Iraqi revolt prevents the mandate over Mesopotamia from being enacted, and was replaced with the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty in 1922. In 1926, Greater Lebanon became the Lebanese Republic.|
|1921||China||Mongolia||Communist Mongolian revolutionaries, with the help of the Red Army, expel the Chinese government presence from Outer Mongolia. Mongolia was recognised by the United Nations in 1961.|
|1922||United Kingdom||Ireland||Following insurgency by the Irish Republican Army, most of Ireland separates from the United Kingdom as the Irish Free State, remaining as a dominion. Northern Ireland, the north-east area of the island, remains within the United Kingdom.|
|Egypt||Egypt is unilaterally granted independence by the United Kingdom. However, four matters (imperial communications, defence, the protection of foreign interests and minorities, as well as Sudan) remain "absolutely reserved to the discretion" of the British government, which greatly restricts the full exercise of Egyptian sovereignty.|
|1926||United Kingdom||Canada, Ireland, South Africa||The Balfour Declaration declares the dominions of the British empire as autonomous Communities within the British Empire, equal in status.|
|1930||United Kingdom||Weihai (today part of China)||The United Kingdom returns the leased port territory at Weihaiwei to China.|
|1931||United Kingdom||Canada, Ireland, South Africa||The Statute of Westminster grants virtually full independence to Canada, the Irish Free State, and the Union of South Africa when it declares the British parliament incapable of passing law over these former colonies without their own consent. This doesn't take effect over New Zealand, Newfoundland, and the Commonwealth of Australia, until independently ratified by these dominions.|
|1932||United Kingdom||Iraq||End of League of Nations Mandate over Iraq. The United Kingdom continues to station troops in the country and influence the Iraqi government until 1958.|
|1940||France||Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia||After the Fall of France, the new French State de facto cedes control of French Indochina to Japan, weakening the colonial system that would make it difficult for France to control their colony once it is returned to them.|
|1941||Italy||Eritrea, Somalia, Ethiopia||Eritrea, Tigray Province (appended to it), Italian Somaliland, and Ethiopia are taken by the Allies after an uneasy occupation of Ethiopia since 1935–36, and no longer joined as one colonial federal state. Ethiopia, the only African state to escape the Scramble for Africa, returns to being a sovereign nation, while the Ogaden desert (disputed by Somalia) remains under British military control until 1948.|
|1942||United Kingdom||Australia||Australia ratifies the Statute of Westminster.|
|Netherlands||Indonesia||Japanese seize control of the Dutch East Indies. Throughout the occupation the Japanese dismantle the colonial system and stirs national fervour among the native population, which will cause major problems for the Dutch when the colony is returned to them.|
|1943||France||Lebanon||Lebanon declares independence, effectively ending the French mandate (previously together with Syria).|
|1944||Denmark||Iceland||Following a plebiscite, Iceland formally becomes a republic, ending the personal union between Denmark and Iceland.|
|1945||Japan||Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia||In the last months of World War II, Japanese forces in French Indochina overthrew the largely powerless colonial administration and declare the independence of the Vietnam (which was formed from three separate colonies) Cambodia, and Laos. After the surrender of Japan, all three states would be disestablished and, in theory, returned to French colonial rule.|
|Korea (today North Korea and South Korea)||After the surrender of Japan, Korea is occupied by the Soviet Union and the United States.|
|Taiwan (today de jure part of China, de facto an independent state with limited recognition), Mengjiang (today part of China), Manchuria (today part of China)||After the surrender of Japan, Mengjiang and Manchukuo are returned to China. Taiwan is put under the post-war occupation of China in accordance with the arrangement in General Order No. 1; this would prove to very useful for Nationalist-led China, as within four years, Taiwan would serve as a refuge for Chiang Kai-shek and his forces following the Communist takeover of China.|
|Indonesia||After the surrender of Japan, the Dutch East Indies is returned to the Netherlands.|
|Netherlands||Indonesia||However, just two days later, the Dutch East Indies declares independence, which after four years of armed struggle and mounting international pressure is recognised by the Netherlands in 1949.|
|France||Vietnam||Before France is able to regain control over French Indochina, Vietnam declares independence. France will recognise Vietnam in 1954 following a humiliating defeat, although between that year and 1975 Vietnam was divided into a communist north and a largely anti-communist south under American influence, before reuniting under North Vietnam rule.|
|1946||United States||Philippines||The treaty of Manila is signed, effectively ending over 380 years of foreign domination in the Philippines. United States military bases continued to be stationed in the islands.|
|United Kingdom||Jordan||The former Emirate of Transjordan became an independent Hashemite kingdom when the United Kingdom relinquishes its League of Nations mandate.|
|France||Syria||The former Mandate of Syria became an independent Republic.|
|1947||United Kingdom||New Zealand||New Zealand ratifies the Statute of Westminster 1931.|
|United Kingdom||India, Pakistan (today Pakistan and Bangladesh)||The British government leaves India, which is partitioned into the secular, but Hindu-majority state of India and the Muslim state of Pakistan (the eastern half of which will later became independent as Bangladesh in 1971).|
|1948||United Kingdom||Myanmar, Sri Lanka||Burma, which had separated from British India earlier and did not gain independence in 1947, and Ceylon, which despite being a part of the Indian subcontinent was only briefly a part of British India, became independent.|
|Israel, Palestine||The Jewish-controlled part of Palestine declares independence as the state of Israel; the remainder of Palestine became de facto part of the Arab states of Egypt (Gaza strip) and Transjordan (West Bank).|
|United States||South Korea||The Republic of Korea is established in the southern part of the Korean peninsula.|
|Soviet Union||North Korea||The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is established in the northern part of the peninsula.|
|1949||United Kingdom||Newfoundland (today part of Canada)||The Dominion of Newfoundland joins Canada.|
|1951||United Kingdom||Eritrea||The Mandate of Eritrea is given by the British to Ethiopia.|
|France, United Kingdom||Libya||The British-controlled Tripolitania and the French-controlled Fezzan unifies with the Emirate of Cyrenaica to form the Kingdom of Libya.|
|1953||France||Cambodia, Laos||The two non-Vietnamese protectorates of French Indochina, Cambodia and Laos, became independent.|
|1954||France||Pondicherry (today part of India)||The Puducherry enclave is incorporated into India.|
|United Kingdom||Suez Canal (today part of Egypt)||In the aftermath of July 23 revolution, the United Kingdom withdraws from the last part of Egypt it controls: the Suez Canal zone.|
|1956||United Kingdom, Egypt (de jure, de facto just United Kingdom)||Sudan (today Sudan and South Sudan)||Egypt ends it claims of sovereignty over Sudan, forcing the United Kingdom to do the same. The southern non-Arab half will later became an independent state in 2011.|
|France||Tunisia||Tunisia achieve independence.|
|France, Spain||Morocco||After large-scale protests forces France to return the sultan of Morocco, the French-controlled territories, most of the Spanish-controlled territories (except Cape Juby and Ifni) and the Tangier International Zone are united into an independent kingdom.|
|1957||United Kingdom||Ghana||The Gold Coast became independent, initiating the decolonisation of sub-Saharan Africa.|
|Malaysia||The Federation of Malaya became independent.|
|1958||France||Guinea||After being the only colony to vote against the 1958 French constitution, Guinea is granted independence.|
|1960||United Kingdom||Cyprus (today de facto Cyprus and Northern Cyprus)||Most of Cyprus became independent, though the UK retains sovereign control over Akrotiri and Dhekelia. In 1983, the northern Turkish half of Cyprus declared its independence (this state is only recognised by Turkey).|
|Nigeria||Nigeria became independent.|
|Italy, United Kingdom||Somalia (today de facto Somalia and Somaliland)||British Somaliland became independent. As the State of Somaliland, the former British Somaliland protectorate merges as scheduled five days later with the Trust Territory of Somaliland (the former Italian Somaliland) to form the Somali Republic. (In the aftermath of the Somali Civil War, the former British Somaliland split from Somalia and has been an internationally-unrecognised independent state called Somaliland since 1991.)|
|France||Ivory Coast, Benin, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali Federation (today Mali and Senegal)||All remaining colony members of French West Africa became independent, including Côte d'Ivoire, Dahomey, Mauritania, Niger, Upper Volta, French Sudan, and Senegal (the last two originally as a single-entity called the Mali Federation; within the same year the two split off into Mali and Senegal).|
|Chad, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Gabon||All colony members of French Equatorial Africa became independent, including Chad, Ubangi-Shari, the French Congo, and Gabon.|
|Cameroon, Togo||The United Nations trust territories of Cameroun and French Togoland became independent.|
|Madagascar||Madagascar became independent.|
|Belgium||Democratic Republic of the Congo||The Belgian Congo (also known as Congo-Kinshasa, later renamed Zaire and presently the Democratic Republic of the Congo) became independent.|
|1961||United Kingdom||Tanzania||The United Nations trust territory of Tanganyika became independent.|
|Sierra Leone||Sierra Leone became independent.|
|Kuwait||The United Kingdom ends its protectorate over the Sheikhdom of Kuwait.|
|British Cameroons (today part of Nigeria and part of Cameroon)||After a referendum, United Nations trust territory of Cameroons is dissolved, with the northern Muslim half deciding to merge with Nigeria and the southern Christian half deciding to merge with Cameroon.|
|South Africa||The Union of South Africa declares itself a republic.|
|Portugal||Goa, Daman and Diu (today part of India)||The former coastal enclave colonies of Goa, Daman and Diu are taken over by India.|
|1962||United Kingdom||Uganda||Uganda achieves independence.|
|Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago||With the collapse of the West Indies Federation, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago became independent as separate entities.|
|France||Algeria||Following the end of the Algerian War and the signing of the Évian Accords, both French and Algerian voters approve the independence of Algeria.|
|Belgium||Rwanda, Burundi||Following a period of ethnic violence in Rwanda that led to abolition of its monarchy, Belgium ends its trusteeship over it and Burundi.|
|New Zealand||Samoa||The South Sea UN trusteeship over Western Samoa (formerly German Samoa and nowadays called just Samoa) is relinquished.|
|1963||United Kingdom||Kenya, Zanzibar (today part of Tanzania)||The United Kingdom and the Sultanate of Zanzibar ceded its sovereignty over Kenya. Zanzibar, itself a British Protectorate, would also have its protectorate terminated in the same year. After the Zanzibar Revolution that occurred a year later, Zanzibar merged with Tanganyika, which promptly renamed itself the United Republic of Tanzania.|
|Sarawak (today part of Malaysia), North Borneo (today part of Malaysia), Singapore||Sarawak, North Borneo and Singapore merges with the independent Federation of Malaya, which promptly renamed itself Malaysia. Within two years, however, Singapore would be expelled from Malaysia.|
|United Nations||Western New Guinea (today part of Indonesia)||Less than a year after Netherlands transferred Netherlands New Guinea to the United Nations, the United Nations Temporary Executive Authority transfers West Papua to Indonesia.|
|1964||United Kingdom||Zambia, Malawi||Following the dissolution of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland declare independence.|
|Malta||The Mediterranean island of Malta became independent.|
|1965||United Kingdom||Zimbabwe||Southern Rhodesia declares independence as Rhodesia, but is not recognised due to its unwillingness to accommodate to black-majority rule.|
|The Gambia||The Gambia receives independence.|
|Maldives||The British protectorate over the Maldives archipelago in the Indian Ocean ends.|
|1966||United Kingdom||Barbados, Guyana||In the British West Indies, Barbados (which was a former member of the West Indies Federation) and British Guiana became independent.|
|Botswana, Lesotho||Near South Africa, Bechuanaland and Basutoland became independent.|
|1967||United Kingdom||South Yemen (today part of Yemen)||On the Arabian peninsula, the Protectorate of South Arabia and the Federation of South Arabia became independent as a single entity called the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (or South Yemen). In 1990, South Yemen merged with the Yemen Arab Republic (or North Yemen), which promptly renamed itself as the Republic of Yemen.|
|1968||United Kingdom||Mauritius||Mauritius achieves independence.|
|Swaziland||The Kingdom of Swaziland has its protectorate terminated.|
|Spain||Equatorial Guinea||Spanish Guinea achieves independence.|
|Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom (de jure, de facto just Australia)||Nauru||Australia relinquishes UN trusteeship (nominally shared by the United Kingdom and New Zealand) of Nauru in the South Sea.|
|1970||United Kingdom||Oman||The United Kingdom ends its protectorate over Muscat and Oman.|
|1971||United Kingdom||Fiji, Tonga||In Oceania, Fiji became independent, while the protectorate over the Kingdom of Tonga ends.|
|United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar||All seven members of the Trucial States became independent upon the termination of their protectorates, with six (Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain) forming the United Arab Emirates; the seventh, Ras al-Khaimah, would join the UAE a year after. Two other Arab monarchies in the Persian Gulf, Bahrain and Qatar (which despite discussions of joining the UAE were not considered part of the Trucial States) also became independent as their British protectorates are lifted.|
|1973||United Kingdom||The Bahamas||The Bahamas are granted independence.|
|Portugal||Guinea-Bissau||After more than a decade of fighting, guerrillas unilaterally declare independence in the Southeastern regions of Portuguese Guinea. It would not be recognised by Portugal until a year later, in the aftermath of Carnation Revolution.|
|1974||United Kingdom||Grenada||Grenada, a former member of the West Indies Federation became independent.|
|1975||France||Comoros||The Comoros archipelago in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa is granted independence.|
|Portugal||Angola, Mozambique||After the Carnation Revolution, the two other colonies who have been fighting against colonial rule, Angola and Mozambique achieve independence. East Timor declares independence, but is subsequently occupied and annexed by Indonesia nine days later.|
|Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe||After the Carnation Revolution, the Western African island groups of Cape Verde and São Tomé and Príncipe achieve independence.|
|East Timor||After the Carnation Revolution, East Timor declares independence, but is subsequently invaded and occupied by Indonesia nine days later.|
|Netherlands||Suriname||Surinam (also known as Dutch Guiana) achieves independence.|
|Australia||Papua New Guinea||Released from Australian trusteeship, Papua New Guinea gains independence.|
|1976||United Kingdom||Seychelles||The Seychelles archipelago in the Indian Ocean off the African coast became independent (one year after granting of self-rule).|
|Spain||Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic||The Spanish colonial rule is de facto terminated over the Western Sahara (then Rio de Oro), when the territory was passed on to and partitioned between Mauritania and Morocco (which annexes the entire territory in 1979), rendering the declared independence of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic ineffective to the present day.|
|1977||France||Djibouti||French Somaliland, also known as the "French Territory of the Afars and the Issas" (after its dominant ethnic groups), gains independence.|
|1978||United Kingdom||Dominica||Dominica, a former member of the West Indies Federation, became independent.|
|Solomon Islands, Tuvalu||The Solomon Islands and the Ellice Islands (which previously split off from the Gilbert and Ellice Islands) became independent.|
|1979||United States||Panama Canal (today part of Panama)||The United States promises to return the Panama Canal Zone (held under a regime sui generis since 1903) to the republic of Panama after 1999.|
|United Kingdom||Kiribati||The Gilbert Islands became independent.|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia||Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Saint Lucia, both former members of the West Indies Federation, became independent.|
|1980||United Kingdom||Zimbabwe||In the aftermath of the Rhodesian Bush War, Rhodesia, which temporary regained its colonial status, became formally independent under black-majority rule.|
|United Kingdom, France||Vanuatu||The joint Anglo-French colony of the New Hebrides became the independent island Republic of Vanuatu.|
|1981||United Kingdom||Belize, Antigua and Barbuda||In the British West Indies, British Honduras and Antigua and Barbuda (which was a former member of the West Indies Federation) became independent.|
|1982||United Kingdom||Canada||Canada gains full independence from the British parliament with the Canada Act 1982.|
|1983||United Kingdom||Saint Kitts and Nevis||Saint Kitts and Nevis (an associated state since 1963) became independent.|
|1984||United Kingdom||Brunei||The United Kingdom ends its protectorate over the Brunei sultanate.|
|1986||United Kingdom||Australia, New Zealand||Australia and New Zealand became fully independent with the Australia Act 1986 and the Constitution Act 1986.|
|1990||South Africa||Namibia||South West Africa, the only League of Nation mandate that did not become a United Nation trust territory via independence, became independent from South Africa. South Africa would continue hold on to Walvis Bay and the Penguin Islands until 1994.|
|United States||Marshall Islands, Micronesia||The UN Security Council gives final approval to end the U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific (dissolved already in 1986), finalising the independence of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia, having been a colonial possession of the empire of Japan before UN trusteeship.|
|1993||Ethiopia||Eritrea||Eritrea, a former Italian colony declares independence and is subsequently recognised.|
|1994||United States||Palau||Palau (after a transitional period as a Republic since 1981, and before part of the U.S. Trust territory of the Pacific) becomes independent from its former trustee, having been a mandate of the Japanese Empire before UN trusteeship.|
|1997||United Kingdom||Hong Kong||The British overseas territory of Hong Kong is given to People's Republic of China.|
|1999||Portugal||Macau||Macau is given to People's Republic of China. It is the last in a series of coastal enclaves that militarily stronger powers had obtained through treaties from the Ming and Qing Empire which ruled China. Macau, like Hong Kong, is not organised into the existing provincial structure applied to other provinces of the People's Republic of China, but is guaranteed an autonomous system of government within the People's Republic of China as a "Special Administrative Region" or S.A.R.|
|2002||Indonesia||East Timor||East Timor formally achieves independence after a transitional UN administration, three years after Indonesia ended its quarter-century occupation of the former Portuguese colony.|
|2006||Serbia and Montenegro||Montenegro|
|2011||Sudan||South Sudan||South Sudan formally achieves independence.|
U.S. citizenship was extended to residents of Puerto Rico by virtue of the Jones Act, chap. 190, 39 Stat. 951 (1971) (codified at 48 U.S.C. § 731 (1987))
Works related to United Nations General Assembly Resolution 66 at Wikisource Works related to United Nations Trusteeship Agreements listed by the General Assembly as Non-Self-Governing at Wikisource Works related to United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1514 at Wikisource Works related to United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1541 at Wikisource
Media related to Decolonization at Wikimedia Commons
The 1870s continued the trends of the previous decade, as new empires, imperialism and militarism rose in Europe and Asia. The United States was recovering from the American Civil War. Germany unified in 1871 and began its Second Reich. Labor unions and strikes occurred worldwide in the later part of the decade, and continued until World War I. The Reconstruction era of the United States brought a legacy of bitterness and segregation that lasted until the 1960s.Colony of Niger
The French Colony of Niger (French: Colonie du Niger) was a French colonial possession covering much of the territory of the modern West African state of Niger, as well as portions of Mali, Burkina Faso and Chad. It existed in various forms from 1900 to 1960, but was titled the Colonie du Niger only from 1922 to 1960Decolonisation of Africa
The decolonization of Africa took place in the mid-to-late 1950s and 1960s, 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 and organized revolts in both Northern and sub-Saharan colonies, especially in French Algeria, Portuguese Angola, the Belgian Congo and British Kenya.Decolonisation of Asia
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.Decolonisation of Oceania
The decolonization of Oceania occurred after World War II when nations in Oceania achieved independence by transitioning from European colonial rule to full independence.
While most of the countries of Oceania have a specific independence day, the independence of Australia and the independence of New Zealand were a gradual process and cannot be associated clearly to a specific date. Most of the British colonies in Australia gained responsible government in the 1850s, as did New Zealand in 1856. This was formalised into Dominion status in the 1900s, but with the United Kingdom retaining certain (disused) powers de jure. Sovereign states de facto by the 1920s, Australia and New Zealand refused the formal recognition of their own full sovereignty when offered through the Statute of Westminster in 1931, before accepting it respectively in 1942 and 1947.Decolonization of the Americas
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 (whose war for independence culminated in the Spanish–American War).
Peaceful independence by voluntary withdrawal of colonial powers then became the norm in the second half of the 20th century. However, there are still many British and Dutch colonies in North America (mostly Caribbean islands), and France has fully "integrated" most of its former colonies as fully constituent "departments" of France.Frantz Fanon
Frantz Fanon (French: [fʁɑ̃ts fanɔ̃]; 20 July 1925 – 6 December 1961), also known as Ibrahim Frantz Fanon, was a French West Indian psychiatrist, philosopher, revolutionary, and writer from the French colony of Martinique, whose works are influential in the fields of post-colonial studies, critical theory, and Marxism. As well as being an intellectual, Fanon was a political radical, Pan-Africanist, and Marxist humanist concerned with the psychopathology of colonization, and the human, social, and cultural consequences of decolonization.In the course of his work as a physician and psychiatrist, Fanon supported the Algerian War of Independence from France, and was a member of the Algerian National Liberation Front. For more than five decades, the life and works of Frantz Fanon have inspired national liberation movements and other radical political organizations in Palestine, Sri Lanka, South Africa, and the United States. In What Fanon Said: A Philosophical Introduction To His Life And Thought, leading African scholar and contemporary philosopher Lewis R. Gordon remarked that
Fanon's contributions to the history of ideas are manifold. He is influential not only because of the originality of his thought but also because of the astuteness of his criticisms. He developed a profound social existential analysis of antiblack racism, which led him to identify conditions of skewed rationality and reason in contemporary discourses on the human being.
Fanon published numerous books, including The Wretched of the Earth (1961). This influential work focuses on what he believes is the necessary role of violence by activists in conducting decolonization struggles.French Chad
Chad was a part of the French colonial empire from 1900 to 1960. Colonial rule under the French began in 1900 when the Military Territory of Chad was established. From 1905, Chad was linked to the federation of French colonial possessions in Middle Africa, known from 1910 under the name of French Equatorial Africa. Chad passed in 1920 to French civilian administration, but suffered from chronic neglect.
Chad distinguished itself in 1940 for being, under the governorship of Félix Éboué, the first French colony to rally by the side of Free France. After World War II, the French permitted a limited amount of representation of the African population, ushering the way to the clash in the political arena between the progressive and southern-based Chadian Progressive Party (PPT) and the Islamic conservative Chadian Democratic Union (UDT). It was eventually the PPT which emerged victorious and brought the country to independence in 1960 under the leadership of François Tombalbaye.French colonial empire
The French colonial empire constituted the overseas colonies, protectorates and mandate territories that came under French rule from the 16th century onward. A distinction is generally made between the "first colonial empire," that existed until 1814, by which time most of it had been lost, and the "second colonial empire", which began with the conquest of Algiers in 1830. The second colonial empire came to an end after the loss in later wars of Indochina (1954) and Algeria (1962), and relatively peaceful decolonizations elsewhere after 1960.
Competing with Spain, Portugal, the Dutch United Provinces and later England, France began to establish colonies in North America, the Caribbean and India in the 17th century. A series of wars with Britain and others resulted in France losing nearly all of its conquests by 1814. France rebuilt a new empire mostly after 1850, concentrating chiefly in Africa as well as Indochina and the South Pacific. Republicans, at first hostile to empire, only became supportive when Germany started to build their own colonial empire. As it developed, the new empire took on roles of trade with France, especially supplying raw materials and purchasing manufactured items as well as lending prestige to the motherland and spreading French standards of development, language and the Catholic religion. It also provided manpower in the World Wars.A major goal was the Mission civilisatrice or "The Civilizing Mission". 'Civilizing' the populations of Africa through spreading language and religion, were used as justifications for many of the brutal practices that came with the french colonial project. In 1884, the leading proponent of colonialism, Jules Ferry, declared; "The higher races have a right over the lower races, they have a duty to civilize the inferior races." Full citizenship rights – assimilation – were offered, although in reality "assimilation was always receding [and] the colonial populations treated like subjects not citizens." France sent small numbers of settlers to its empire, contrary to Great Britain and previously Spain and Portugal, with the only notable exception of Algeria, where the French settlers nonetheless always remained a small minority.
At its apex, it was one of the largest empires in history. Including metropolitan France, the total amount of land under French sovereignty reached 11,500,000 km2 (4,400,000 sq mi) in 1920, with a population of 110 million people in 1939. In World War II, Charles de Gaulle and the Free French used the overseas colonies as bases from which they fought to liberate France. Historian Tony Chafer argues: "In an effort to restore its world-power status after the humiliation of defeat and occupation, France was eager to maintain its overseas empire at the end of the Second World War." However, after 1945 anti-colonial movements began to challenge European authority. The French constitution of 27 October 1946 (Fourth Republic), established the French Union which endured until 1958. Newer remnants of the colonial empire were integrated into France as overseas departments and territories within the French Republic. These now total altogether 119,394 km² (46,098 sq. miles), which amounts to only 1% of the pre-1939 French colonial empire's area, with 2.7 million people living in them in 2013. By the 1970s, says Robert Aldrich, the last "vestiges of empire held little interest for the French." He argues, "Except for the traumatic decolonization of Algeria, however, what is remarkable is how few long-lasting effects on France the giving up of empire entailed."History of colonialism
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 end of the 18th and early 19th century saw the first era of decolonization, when most of the European colonies in the Americas gained their independence from their respective metropoles. Spain was irreversibly weakened after the loss of their New World colonies, but the Kingdom of Great Britain (uniting Scotland with England and Wales), France, Portugal, and the Dutch turned their attention to the Old World, particularly South Africa, India and South East Asia, where coastal enclaves had already been established.
The second industrial revolution, in the 19th century, led to what has been termed the era of New Imperialism, when the pace of colonization rapidly accelerated, the height of which was the Scramble for Africa, in which Belgium, Germany and Italy were also participants.
There were conflicts between colonizing states and revolutions from colonized areas shaping areas of control and establishing independent nations. During the 20th century, the colonies of the defeated central powers in World War I were distributed amongst the victors as mandates, but it was not until the end of World War II that the second phase of decolonization began in earnest.List of United Nations resolutions concerning Western Sahara
United Nations documents related to decolonization of Spanish Sahara, the Western Sahara conflict, Moroccan military occupation, Sahrawi refugees, and the establishment of MINURSO.Political status of Puerto Rico
The political status of Puerto Rico is that of an unincorporated territory of the United States. As such, the island is neither a sovereign nation nor a U.S. state. Because of that ambiguity, the territory, as a polity, lacks certain rights but enjoys certain benefits that other polities have or lack. For instance, in contrast to sovereign nations, Puerto Rico does not have voting rights in its federal legislature nor in electing its federal head of government. But, in contrast to U.S. states, residents of Puerto Rico are not subject to federal income taxes. The political status of the island thus stems from how different Puerto Rico is politically from sovereign nations and from U.S. states.
The status of the island is the result of various political activities within both the United States and Puerto Rican governments. The United Nations removed it from the list of non-self-governing territories in 1953. But it remains subject to the Territorial Clause of the U.S. Constitution. According to the Insular Cases, Puerto Rico is "a territory appurtenant and belonging to the United States, but not a part of the United States within the revenue clauses of the Constitution".American and Puerto Rican political activities regarding the status question have revolved around three sets of initiatives: presidential executive orders, bills in the U.S. Congress, and referenda held in Puerto Rico. U.S. Presidents have issued three executive orders on the subject, and Congress has considered four major bills on Puerto Rico's political status. Puerto Rican status referenda have been held four times to determine the desired political status of Puerto Rico in relation to the United States of America. In 1967 and 1993, Commonwealth won. In another plebiscite held on November 6, 2012, 54% of respondents voted to reject the current status under the territorial clause of the U.S. Constitution. In a second question, 61% favored statehood as the preferred alternative, however, when blank ballots were counted, statehood support dropped to 45%. Another referendum was held on June 11, 2017, in which voters had three options: "Statehood", "Free Association/Independence" or "Current Territorial Status". While 97% of voters chose "Statehood", turnout was only 23% (the lowest in history) due to a boycott from pro-Independence and pro-Commonwealth supporters.
Internationally, several organizations have called for the U.S. government to expedite the process to allow self-determination in Puerto Rico while considering Puerto Rico a Caribbean nation with its own national identity. For instance, the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization has called for the United States "to allow the Puerto Rican people to take decisions in a sovereign manner, and to address their urgent economic and social needs, including unemployment, marginalization, insolvency and poverty."Rump state
A rump state is the remnant of a once much larger state, left with a reduced territory in the wake of secession, annexation, occupation, decolonization, or a successful coup d'état or revolution on part of its former territory. In the latter case, a government stops short of going into exile because it still controls part of its former territory.South Yemen
South Yemen is the common English name for the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (Arabic: جمهورية اليمن الديمقراطية الشعبية Jumhūriyat al-Yaman ad-Dīmuqrāṭīyah ash-Sha'bīyah), which existed from 1967 to 1990 as a state in the Middle East in the southern and eastern provinces of the present-day Republic of Yemen, including the island of Socotra. It was also referred to as Democratic Yemen or Yemen (Aden).
South Yemen's origins can be traced to 1874 with the creation of the British colony of Aden and the Aden Protectorate, which consisted of two-thirds of the present-day Yemen. However, Aden became a province within the British Raj in 1937. After the collapse of Aden Protectorate, the state of emergency was declared in 1963 when the National Liberation Front (NLF) and the Front for the Liberation of Occupied South Yemen (FLOSY) rebelled against British rule.
The Federation of South Arabia and the Protectorate of South Arabia merged to become South Yemen on 30 November 1967 and became a Marxist socialist republic in 1970 supported by the Soviet Union. Despite its efforts to bring stability into the region, it was involved in a brief civil war in 1986. With the collapse of communism, South Yemen was unified with the Yemen Arab Republic (commonly known as "North Yemen") on 22 May 1990, to form the present-day Yemen. After four years, however, South Yemen declared its secession from the north, which resulted in the north occupying south Yemen and the 1994 civil war. Another attempt to restore South Yemen continues on since 2017.Special Committee on Decolonization
The United Nations Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, or the Special Committee on Decolonization (C24), is a committee of the United Nations General Assembly. It is exclusively devoted to the issue of decolonization.Suriname
Suriname (, US also , also sometimes spelled Surinam), officially known as the Republic of Suriname (Dutch: Republiek Suriname [reːpyˌblik syːriˈnaːmə]), is a country on the northeastern Atlantic coast of South America. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the north, French Guiana to the east, Guyana to the west and Brazil to the south. At just under 165,000 square kilometers (64,000 square miles), it is the smallest sovereign state in South America. Suriname has a population of approximately 558,368, most of whom live on the country's north coast, in and around the capital and largest city, Paramaribo.
Suriname was long inhabited by various indigenous people before being invaded and contested by European powers from the 16th century, eventually coming under Dutch rule in the late 17th century. As the chief sugar colony during the Dutch colonial period, it was primarily a plantation economy dependent on African slaves and, following the abolition of slavery in 1863, indentured servants from Asia. Suriname was ruled by the Dutch-chartered company Society of Suriname between 1683 and 1795.
In 1954, Suriname became one of the constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. On 25 November 1975, the country of Suriname left the Kingdom of the Netherlands to become an independent state, nonetheless maintaining close economic, diplomatic, and cultural ties to its former colonizer. Suriname is considered to be a culturally Caribbean country, and is a member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). While Dutch is the official language of government, business, media, and education, Sranan Tongo, an English-based creole language, is a widely used lingua franca. Suriname is the only sovereign nation outside Europe where Dutch is spoken by a majority of the population. As a legacy of colonization, the people of Suriname are among the most diverse in the world, spanning a multitude of ethnic, religious, and linguistic groups.United Nations Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs
The United Nations Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) is a department of the Secretariat of the United Nations (UN) with responsibility for monitoring and assessing global political developments and advising and assisting the UN Secretary General and his envoys in the peaceful prevention and resolution of conflict around the world. The department manages field-based political missions in Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East, and has in recent years been increasing its professional capacities in conflict mediation and preventive diplomacy. DPA also oversees UN electoral assistance to Member States of the organization. Established in 1992, the department's responsibilities also include providing secretariat support to the UN Security Council and two standing committees created by the General Assembly concerning the Rights of the Palestinian People and Decolonization.United Nations General Assembly Fourth Committee
The United Nations General Assembly Fourth Committee (also known as the Special Political and Decolonization Committee or SPECPOL) is one of six main committees of the United Nations General Assembly. It deals with a diverse set of political issues. However, the issues of decolonization and the Middle East take up most of its time.Wars of national liberation
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 (or at least those perceived as foreign) 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 term "wars of national liberation" is most commonly used for those fought during the decolonization movement. Since these were primarily in the third world against Western powers and their economic influence and a major aspect of the Cold War, the phrase itself has often been viewed as biased or pejorative. Some of these wars were either vocally or materially supported by the Soviet Union, which stated itself to be an anti-imperialist power, supporting the replacement of western-backed governments with local communist or other non pro-western parties. However, this did not always guarantee Soviet influence in those countries. In addition to and increasingly in competition to the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China presented themselves as models of independent nationalist development outside of Western influence, particularly as such posturing and other longterm hostility meant they were regarded as a threat to Western power and regarded themselves as such, using their resources to politically, economically and militarily assist movements such as in Vietnam. In January 1961 Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev pledged support for "wars of national liberation" throughout the world.The Communist concept of "imperialism" that was used to underline Soviet and Chinese involvement in these struggles and its relations to colonies had been theorized in Vladimir Lenin's 1916 book, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism while Ho Chi Minh, who founded the Viet-Minh in 1930 and declared the independence of Vietnam on September 2, 1945, following the 1945 August Revolution, was a founding member of the French Communist Party (PCF) in 1921.