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Secession describes the political movement to withdraw a bloc of membership from an organization or especially a section of territory and resident population from an existing state or sub-national unit of government.

Historically, the term "secessionist" is used more often to describe the losing Confederate side in the American Civil War or the War to Preserve Slavery. The present day supporters of the losers of that conflict are also known as the proponents of the Lost Cause of the South. During the Civil War era in America the secessionists were known as "seceshers" and are called such today. Modern era secessionists in the U. S. may include both Southerners (or as they're known to call themselves, "Southroners") and Northerners. All are afflicted by the "false-consensus effect" whereby they overestimate the importance and the popularity of their endeavor.

Even in America, it's not quite dead.[1]


A common historical misrepresentation made by today's small community of active secession advocates is that the U.S. and other colonies were born by an act of secession. While in some sense this is true, the term secession implies the leaving of a body you are an integral part of, while a colony, with some exceptions, is a subservient territory under the rule of another country.

Today no country officially considers any part of its territory to be a "colony"[note 1] and as such independence movements of e.g. Caribbean islands belonging to some European power would be labeled "secessionist" by proponents of their mother country, even though they would describe themselves as anti-colonialist. And that's all we are going to say about that.[citation NOT needed]

Some notable cases of secession politics in the last century or so:


Crushed Attempts[edit]

Fairly popular from the dawn of Humanity to the recent past, unilateral attempts at secession were both common and bloody whether successful or not.

  • Anjouan, from Comoros
  • Azawad, from Mali
  • Biafra, from Nigeria - briefly achieved de facto independence before being crushed after three years of war by Nigeria
  • Bougainville, from Papua New Guinea. Part of the political settlement following the Bougainville Civil WarWikipedia was political autonomy and a referendum to vote on independence. This was held in December 2019, with 97.7% voting to leave, although it isn't entirely clear what will happen next.[4][5])
  • Cabinda, from Angola
  • Casamance, from Senegal
  • Chechnya, from Russia after 2000 and the second Chechnya War (the wars for its secession - which it briefly de facto achieved - played a major role in the career of one certain V. Putin)
  • Dagestan, from Russia (de facto independent in 1999)
  • Far Eastern Republic, from Russia - also most of what became Union Republics in the European part of the USSR, during the Russian Civil War
  • Katanga, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo: it was independent from 1960 to 1963 with the support of a Belgian mining company, but was eventually conquered by United Nations troops and reattached to Congo-Léopoldville (now the DRC).[6]
  • Kurdistan, from Iran, Iraq (de facto from 1990 to 2003), Syria (de facto in Rojava), and Turkey
  • Manchukuo,Wikipedia from China (though it was a puppet of Imperial Japan)
  • Mohéli, from Comoros
  • Northern Ireland, from the UK during The Troubles.
  • South Maluku, from Indonesia (de facto independent in 1950)
  • South Yemen, following union with Yemen in 1990
  • Tamil Eelam, from Sri Lanka.
  • Tibet, from China
  • Western Sahara, from the not internationally recognized Moroccan occupation (despite a small part of the claimed territory being actually under de facto control of the pro-independence Polisario)
  • West Papua, from Indonesia (which was recently granted some degree of autonomy)
  • Zanzibar, from Tanzania (though they have some degree of autonomy)
  • 11 southern states in the mid-1800's from the United States as the CSA. Fought a war for the majority of its existence that they then lost. De jure unrecognized by any of the Great Powers despite many attempts, and the official US position decided by legal decisions afterwards is that they never actually seceded in the first place. [7] Today secessionist sentiment is exploited - and sometimes fueled - by Republican politicians, of all people.
  • Several nationalist revolts were violently crushed in Puerto Rico during the 1950s.

Unsuccessful Peaceful Attempts[edit]

  • Catalonia, from Spain (they unilaterally declared independence in 2017 but the Spanish government overruled this).[8]
  • Quebec, from Canada (see Bloc Québécois). Many parts of Canada have seen independence advocates, ranging from eastern maritime provinces such as Newfoundland & Labrador and Nova Scotia, to the western provinces and First Nations (demanding various degrees of autonomy), while Rathnelly in Toronto jokily declared independence in 1967. Today secessionist feeling is concentrated in Alberta, which is in the middle of Canada but owing to its enormous amount of oil is hostile to the environmentalist do-gooders on either side.[9][10]
  • Scotland, from the UK (see Scottish National Party). Attempted once in 2014 and lost by 10% of a vote. Likely to try again after one of the reasons given not to secede ended up rendered moot.


  • Aceh Region, from Indonesia (though they have gained autonomy)
  • Åland, from Finland (though they have a high degree of autonomy)
  • Assam, from India
  • Balochistan, from Pakistan and Iran
  • Basque Country, from Spain (and possibly France) (though they have a high degree of autonomy guaranteed by the Spanish constitution)
  • Bavaria, from Germany. Bavaria is traditionally Catholic, like Austria, After 1918 when the German and Austro-Hungarian empires both collapsed there were calls (mainly from conservatives and reactionaries) for Bavaria to leave Germany and join up with Austria in some way. But instead Hitler annexed Austria, putting paid to that idea. The BayernparteiWikipedia, big in the 1950s but declining since then, is the last one to openly advocate it, although the CSU sometimes at least wags a middle finger at Berlin — despite being officially unionist.[11]
  • Brittany, from France
  • Catalonia, from Spain. An independence referendum, albeit illegal, was successfully held there, and there is a serious likelihood of future autonomy of some kind.
  • Cornwall, from England (see Mebyon Kernow)
  • Corsica, from France
  • East Turkestan (Xinjiang, the Uyghur people), from China.[12] In recent years China has worked to ruthlessly suppress any trace of independence, throwing around a million people into "re-education" camps.[13]
  • Faroe Islands, from Denmark (though they have a high degree of autonomy as a "constituent country" of the Kingdom of Denmark)
  • Flanders, from Belgium
  • Franconia, from Bavaria (especially if the latter's secession from Germany is successful)
  • French Polynesia voted 56% to 44% against independence from France in 2018, but the surprisingly close result indicates support is growing despite the indigenous population being outnumbered by immigrants and their descendants.[14] Other French overseas departments and territories such as Mayotte and French Guiana seem less keen on independence.
  • Galicia, from Spain (possibly to join with Portugal)
  • Greenland, from Denmark (of which they currently are a constituent country).
  • Guadeloupe, from France[15]
  • Guam, from the United States
  • Hong Kong, from China (following unification in 1997, it enjoyed significant autonomy due to the "one country, two systems" policy, but as of 2020 China seems to be trying to integrate Hong Kong more closely with the mainland; as a result desire for independence is strong but it seems very unlikely). [16][17]
  • Inner Mongolia, from China (possibly with intention to unify with "Outer" Mongolia)
  • Islamic State, from the Middle Eastern post-colonial setup. While this may not qualify as a secessionist movement per se (as ISIS would love to conquer all of these countries, rather than simply secede), it was pretty successful at carving out a piece of land and holding de facto control over varying parts of it for years.
  • Jammu and Kashmir, from either Pakistan or India in order to join the other
  • Karelia, from Russia
  • Khalistan (Punjab region), from both Pakistan and India
  • Kurdistan, from Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. Iraqi Kurdistan is de jure recognized by the government as autonomous and they were de facto independent from Saddam between the two American invasions of Iraq, and Rojava in Syria is de facto, being an 'autonomous confederation' separate from all other entities there. Kurdish regions in Iran and Turkey want to separate, but both are mostly held by the host governments, with exceptions in Turkey.
  • Lakotah, from the United States, with the borders being determined by the Treaty of Fort Laramie.Wikipedia The movement was led by activist Russell Means.Wikipedia
  • Manipur, from India
  • New Caledonia, from France
  • Northern England, from the UK: the Northern Independence Party is promoting its independence under the name Northumbria with its capital possibly at York.[18][19]
  • Northern Italy, from Italy
  • Puerto Rico, from the US (possibly with the intention of joining a free association agreement with US, there is also another movement to become a member of the Union)
  • Republika Srpska, from Bosnia
  • Ryukyu Islands, from Japan
  • Shetland and Orkney, seeking increased autonomy within or even independence from Scotland/the UK[20]
  • Sicily, from Italy
  • South Tyrol, from Italy, possibly with the intention of becoming part of Austria) (although they already possess a high degree of political autonomy)
  • The Taiwanese Independence movement from the Republic of China. Unique in that the country it would break away from would cease to exist as they cover the same territory and that it is the political goal of one of the two main party blocs in Parliament. This would also potentially spark an invasion by the Mainland, who see Taiwan as belonging to it, just under rebel occupation (the reverse is true from the point of view of the ROC). Interestingly enough a Taiwanese separatist movement already existed during and prior to Japanese occupation (1895-1945). In fact a very short-lived Republic of FormosaWikipedia existed briefly during 1895.
  • Tibet, from China, with independence mainly advanced by Tibetan émigrés overseas; the 14th Dalai Lama formerly supported it but now favors autonomy within China.[21]
  • Tripura, from India
  • "Venetia" (the area surrounding Venice) from Italy
  • Wales, from the UK (see Plaid Cymru)
  • Wallonia, from Belgium, although they're less keen than the Flemish on breaking the status quo and generally prefer reunification with France to independence for Wallonia.[22]
  • Yorkshire from the UK, ranging from movements for greater autonomy or devolution[23][24] to full independence, although the latter is widely considered a joke.[25]
  • various states from the US (see below)

In the US[edit]

From US Independence it was unclear whether a constituent state could legitimately bail out of the United States, until the 1869 decision in Texas v. White ruled that the US Constitution prevented states from seceding unilaterally from the union.[26] Both before and after that decision, various secessionist movements have sprung into existence. The most famous was that which led to the American Civil War, but aside from that there have been many other less violent and more comical examples, ranging from self-proclaimed micronations (e.g. the Conch RepublicWikipedia in Florida) to proposals for the largest states, especially Texas (which was, at least, a viable independent country at one time).

There have also been independence movements in various US territories such as Puerto Rico,[27] as well as calls for independence by indigenous groups (e.g. the Republic of Lakotah),Wikipedia but they tend to be more rational. In addition, there are various proposals for counties or parts of states to secede from their existing state and form a new state still within the US; this is enormously trivial and not covered here (examples: eastern Washington State, northern Maine, southern California, far northern California and southern Oregon, southern Arizona, New York City).[28][29] And various figures have proclaimed themselves some kind of monarch without making a serious attempt to secede. This includes Emperor NortonWikipedia in California, and the Mormon leader James Strang who proclaimed himself king in Beaver Island, Michigan, but considered this a spiritual rather than secular position.[30]


Joe Vogler founded Alaskans for Independence and the Alaskan Independence Party in 1973, 14 years after Alaskan statehood (Alaska became a state in 1959). Initially he focused on a petition calling for secession. The party was officially recognised in 1984. An attempt to hold a vote on a ballot initiative for secession was proposed in 2006, but despite receiving the required number of signatures was ruled unconstitutional and removed from the ballot. Since then the party has moved away from secessionism, adopting a libertarian platform similar to lots of other minor parties (Constitution Party, Libertarian Party, etc).[31] Todd Palin, Sarah Palin's husband, was a member for a while.[32]


California has often been viewed as somewhat separate from the majority of the US, but the California National Party was only founded in 2015.[33] Following the election of Donald Trump in November 2016, there were calls for CalExit (funded in part by the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia), i.e. Californian secession, and even proposals to join Canada[34] (which were kinda sensible in terms of sentiment but pretty batty in terms of geography). California's historical claim to independent statehood is genuine (the "California Republic" on its flag is a reminder of it) but so shaky as to be almost ephemeral, since it was declared by Americans with the likely intention to join the US: which it did just a couple weeks after declaring independence.


Geographically, Hawaii is detached from the continental US, and it was an independent state for many years. Even today there are those who seek independence, mainly native Hawaiians. Some organisations want the restoration of the Hawaiian monarchy, while others such as the Nation of Hawai'i have called for an independent republic.[35]


Similar to the Second Vermont Republic, there is an effort to get Christian fundamentalists to move to Maine and establish an independent Republic of Maine, which will ban shops from opening on Sundays.[36] There have also been suggestions that Maine secede and join more liberal Canada, although British Canada wasn't bothered about keeping Maine in 1812.[37][38]

New Hampshire[edit]

The New Hampshire Liberty Party is a libertarian, pro-independence group formed in 2012.[39] The movement for New Hampshire independence gained momentum following the Brexit vote in summer 2016.[40]


Texas was independent from 1836 to 1845, when it joined the US. Since then, a small subset of Texans have regretted that decision. Texas attempted to secede in 1861 following a referendum, but Abraham Lincoln managed to change their minds after only a little war. There was uncertainty about Texas's status for a while afterwards, but things quieted down for over a hundred years. In the 1990s a renewed secessionist movement began, with such groups as Richard Lance McLaren's Republic of Texas organization and its more moderate offshoot, Daniel Miller's Texas Nationalist Movement. McLaren became increasingly eccentric, demanding 93 trillion dollars in reparations from the US federal government and taking hostages in an armed siege which led to him being sentenced to 99 years in jail, although fortunately there were no deaths.[41][42]

Texas governor Rick Perry hinted at secession in 2009, and following Barack Obama's second victory in 2012, there was even more widespread interest in secession, though the majority of Texans declared themselves opposed.[41] Texans' calls for independence are often met in the rest of the country with responses that amount to "Don't let the door hit you on the way out."


See Second Vermont Republic

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. This is more a public relations move than any shift in actual relations between the imperial heartland and the client state.
  2. This is also the reason why Norway and Iceland are unlikely to join the EU any time soon. Iceland even got to "war" with the Royal Navy over fishing. see here for details on one of the most bizarre wars in history - won by the nation without an army to boot.
  3. There's also PuntlandWikipedia in Somalia, which is autonomous like Somaliland but hasn't declared independence
  4. To wit: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Macedonia and - at a later stage - Montenegro (by than the name "Yugoslavia" had already been dropped)


  2. See the Wikipedia article on Abkhazia.
  3. EU Parliament accuses Baku of 'ethnic cleansing' in Nagorno-Karabakh[a w]euronews
  4. "Signing paves way for Bougainville independence vote". 25 January 2017. Retrieved 19 May 2017. 
  5. Bougainville has voted for independence, but may not get it, The Economist, 18 Dec 2019
  6. See the Wikipedia article on State of Katanga.
  7. Texas V. White
  8. See the Wikipedia article on Catalan independence movement.
  9. See the Wikipedia article on Secessionist movements of Canada.
  10. See the Wikipedia article on Alberta separatism.
  11. See the Wikipedia article on Bavarian nationalism.
  12. See the Wikipedia article on East Turkestan independence movement.
  13. Inside Chinese camps thought to be detaining a million Muslim Uighurs, NBC, Oct 4, 2019
  14. Independence Thwarted, For Now, in the French Pacific, New Internationalist, 14 November 2018
  15. The Island Where France's Colonial Legacy Lives On, The Atlantic, April 2018
  16. Hong Kong independenceWikipedia
  17. Hong Kong security law: What is it and is it worrying?, BBC, June 30, 2020
  18. See the Wikipedia article on Northern Independence Party.
  19. Northern Independence Party official website
  20. See the Wikipedia article on Orkney and Shetland Movement.
  21. See the Wikipedia article on Tibetan independence movement.
  22. See the Wikipedia article on Walloon Movement.
  23. See the Wikipedia article on Yorkshire First.
  24. CORXIT? YORXIT? Brexit fires up Cornwall and Yorkshire independence movements, Daily Express
  25. Scottish independence: Could areas of England leave the UK?, BBC, 23 Nov 2013
  26. See the Wikipedia article on Texas v. White.
  27. Colony, state or independence: Puerto Rico's status anxiety adds to debt crisis, The Guardian, 7 Jul 2015
  28. 10 modern secession movements in the united states, Listosaur
  29. See the Wikipedia article on List of active separatist movements in North America.
  30. How a Mormon king shaped a sleepy island in Lake Michigan, Michigan Radio, 2015
  31. See the Wikipedia article on Alaskan Independence Party.
  32. A Palin Joined Alaskan Third Party, Just Not Sarah Palin, New York Times, 3 Sep 2008
  33. See the Wikipedia article on California National Party.
  34. Canadians invite liberal US states to break away from Donald Trump's America, Independent (UK), 16 Nov 2016
  35. See the Wikipedia article on Hawaiian sovereignty movement.
  36. The Maine Secession Movement is now actively inviting, Free Republic chat, 24/05/2014
  37. See the Wikipedia article on List of proposed provinces and territories of Canada.
  38. New Ireland: How Maine almost became part of Canada at the end of the War of 1812, National Post (Toronto)
  39. Info, New Hampshire Liberty Party website
  40. ‘NHexit’ calls for secession, Concord Monitor, 26 June 2016
  41. 41.0 41.1 See the Wikipedia article on Texas secession movements.
  42. Texas separatist still thinks cause will succeed, Houston Chronicle, 3 May 1997