Independence is the
self-governmentof a nation, country, or stateby its residents and population, or some portion thereof, generally exercising sovereignty.
The term independence is used in contrast to "subjugation," which refers to a region as a "territory" —subject to the political and military control of an external government. The word is sometimes used in a weaker sense to contrast with
hegemony, the indirect control of one nation by another, more powerful nation.
Independence can be the initial status of an "emerging
nation" (often filling a political void), but is often an "emancipation" from some dominating power. It can be argued that independence is a negative definition: the state of not being controlled by another power through colonialism, expansionismor imperialism. Independence may be obtained by decolonization, or by separation or dissolution.
Although the last three can often coincide with it, they are not to be confused with
revolution, which typically refers to the violent overthrow of a ruling authority. This sometimes only aims to redistribute power—with or without an element of emancipation, such as in democratization—"within" a state, which as such may remain unaltered. The Russian October Revolution, for example, was not intended to seek national independence; the United States Revolutionary War, however, was.
"Autonomy" (in slight contrast) refers to a kind of independence which has been granted by an overseeing authority that itself still retains ultimate authority over that territory (see
Devolution). A protectoraterefers to an autonomous region that depends upon a larger government for its protection as an autonomous region. The dates of established independence (or, to a lesser degree, the commencement of revolution), are typically celebrated as a national holidayknown as an independence day.
Sometimes, a state wishing to achieve independence from a dominating power will issue a
declaration of independence, the earliest surviving example being Scotland's Declaration of Arbroath, and the most recent example being Kosovo's declaration of independence. Another example is the U.S. Declaration of Independence issued in 1776.
Causes for a country or province wishing to seek independence are many. Disillusionment rising from the establishment is a cause widely used in separatist movements, but it is usually severe economic difficulties that trigger these groups into action. The means can extend from peaceful demonstrations, like in the case of the
Indian independence movement, to a violent civil war.
List of countries by date of independence
*Wars of independence
The dates of independence, as they have been ported into many articles from the "
CIA World Factbook" are defined as follows: :"For most countries, [the given date is that] when sovereigntywas achieved...For the other countries, the date given may not represent "independence" in the strict sense, but rather some significant nationhood event such as the traditional founding date or the date of unification, federation, confederation, establishment, or fundamental change in the form of government, such as state succession."
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