9 Independence Movements That Could Reshape The World


Photo: AP

The United Kingdom formally announced on Monday that Scotland will hold a referendum in 2014 to determine whether it will leave the UK and become an independent nation.Scotland is just one of many regions around the world where there is a growing separatist movement. The worldwide economic crisis has fuelled the desire for independence in many culturally unique locales.

Some movements are marked by violence. A couple have been surprisingly peaceful recently. Some have been around for centuries, while others are quite new in the grand scheme of history.


Despite some British reluctance and disdain towards of Scottish independence, the region will hold a referendum on 2014 in which Scots will decide whether or not to leave the UK.


Though the Welsh independence movement has a long history, the question of Scottish independence has exhumed a substantive debate on Welsh independence. The region enjoys a fair amount of autonomy and has its own assembly government.

Membership in one of Wales' biggest nationalist parties, Plaid Cymru, has jumped significantly in recent years.


Although not all Flemish citizens want outright independence, many seek greater autonomy from the current Belgian government, in order to protect Flemish culture and the Dutch language.

Recently, political parties that favour more autonomy have had huge gains in Dutch politics -- on Sunday, the leader of the separatist party NV-A was elected mayor of Antwerp.


The Catalonian independence movement has been around for quite some time. The region has its own unique language, culture, dining specialties, and architecture.

The movement e subsided in large part, but Spain's economic downturn has driven many Catalonians in favour of independence. Catalonia is Spain's wealthiest autonomous community, and pays more in taxes to the federal government than it receives -- much to the ire of Catalonians.

Basque Country

The Basque country, which lies on the border between Spain and France, has long sought independence based on its unique cultural identity and distinct language; however, the separatist movement has been marred by violence. ETA, the primary Basque separatist and independence movement, is known more for its terrorist activities than its diplomatic negotiations.

But in 2011, ETA declared its armed campaign to be over. The organisation has violated ceasefires before, but to date the agreement appears to have ended the violence.


One of Italy's most scenic cities wants has recently declared that it wants to to break away from the country, rather than be burdened by austerity measures. In early October thousands gathered in protest throughout Venice to call for independence.

Venice and the surrounding Veneto area was an independent republic during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. It has only been a part of the Italy since the Third Italian War of Independence united the country 146 years ago.

Local polls declared that 70-80 per cent of Venetians favoured breaking away from Italy.


The French-speaking Candian province has always prided itself on its francophonic roots, and last month's elections reflects this sentiment.

The Parti Quebecois (PQ), which advocates sovereignty for Quebec, gained 54 seats in the Quebec general election -- enough to form a minority government.


Kurdistan refers to a region dominated by the eponymously named people located in eastern Turkey, eastern Syria, northern Iraq, northern Iran, and partially in Armenia.

Although Iraqi Kurdistan has a semi-autonomous status within Iraq, many Kurdish organisations call for the creation of an independent Kurdish state, based on their independent language and culture.

The main separatist organisation, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), has branches in Syria, Turkey, and Iraq. It is classified as a terrorist organisation by the U.S. and the E.U.

Not only are the Kurds caught in their own battle for independence, but the conflict in Syria has Turkey concerned over its own Turkish minority.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia

Sovereignty over the two self-declared republics in the Caucasus has been a hot topic since the 2008 South Ossetian War between Russia, Georgia and the separatists governments in the two 'breakaway republics.'

The war started when Georgian forces occupied South Ossetia in order to assert its control and to respond to attacks on peacekeeprs, much to the chagrin of Russia -- which is supported by the unrecognised government in South Ossetia. Russian peacekeepers were killed in the Georgian occuptation, so Russia responded by invading both South Ossetia and Abkhazia

Today, the regions are technically under Georgian sovereignty, and most states do not recognise the Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states.

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