The political map grows while the World breaks! The lines on the map get rearranged with every new division, and looks like an old Roman fresco. The last 50 years saw the formation of 100 “new countries.” This is nothing new and has been happening since 400 AD, when empires around the world partitioned into smaller countries.
The period of separatism continues: The Tibetans want their country back; the Uighurs don’t want to have anything to do with China; Arunachal Pradesh that is claimed by both India and China, claims itself; tiny Belgium is going to get tinier; Sudan is on the verge of division; the USSR is already fractured multiple times; and with two Koreas, two Samoas and three Guianas, it would be surprising if people stop fighting for a small bit of the countryside they can convert into yet another – “tiny” country. No sooner is this tiny country formed; tinier parts within this tiny country start fighting and want to be their own whole …..and so on.
While the last two decades has seen no changes in the International maps of North and South America; Europe has given birth to many new nations; new countries have been added to Asian, African and Australian continents. Over 30 countries came into existence since 1990. More than half of them are due to the disintegration of the USSR.
Here is a list of the world’s newest countries:
(Not yet formed – Expected Date of Independence July 9, 2011)
Sudan is getting ready for what could be the continent’s biggest divorce. January 2011 – saw an overwhelming response from Sudanese, casting their vote in favor of creating an independent state in the southern region. A referendum (a direct vote in which an entire electorate participates) held in January 2011 was devastating in its consequences, indicating that a whooping 98% majority of people voted for a separate country. South Sudan could very well become the world’s newest country on July 9, 2011.
President Barack Obama calls this division a “historic step.”
There are many that wonder, how Obama calls this historic, when he is such an ardent admirer of Abraham Lincoln, who took his nation to war to prevent his country from splitting.
(Part of former Yugoslavia – Independence 2008)
A part of the former Yugoslavia, Kosovo became a part of Serbia as an autonomous province, after Yugoslavia fell. The country fought a long struggle for independence and was also under transitional UN administration (UNMIK) from 1999. It was finally declared independent on Feb 17, 2008, and listed as one of the newest countries of the world.
But not all countries recognize Kosovo as independent
Although majority of the countries of the world accepted Kosovo as an independent country; there are still many countries, including Serbia, which doesn’t recognize the move. Russia and India also insist it is not independent. The reason being, the declaration of independence was done by individual members of the Assembly of Kosovo and not by the Assembly itself. Serbia asked international support in finding this declaration of independence “illegal.” Taking into consideration Serbia’s request, United Nations General Assembly requested an opinion from the International Court of Justice. The Court decided that the declaration was not illegal, but also not an official act!
Timor-Leste or East Timor
(Formerly annexed by Indonesia – Independence 2002)
Although, the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste declared independence from Portuguese rule in 1975; soon after that, it was annexed by Indonesia. After over two decades of Indonesian occupation, Timor-Leste regained its independence on May 20, 2002, gaining the distinction of being the first-born of the 21st century World.
In Asia, there are two Roman Catholic dominated countries; one is Philippines and the other is Timor-Leste, which occupies the eastern half of the Timor Island. The country is currently experiencing a climate of post-conflict nation building.
Serbia and Montenegro
(Part of former Yugoslavia – Independence 2006
When Yugoslavia collapsed and four of its six republics became independent in the early 1990s, only Serbia and Montenegro remained within from 1992 to 2006. But in 2006, there was an independence referendum, where the Montenegrins voted on behalf of a separate country. This separation led to the formation of two independent countries: Serbia and Montenegro. Serbia finally became independent after 88 years in different federations. It is located at the crossroads of Southeastern and Central Europe. Montenegro is located in Southeastern Europe.
(Formerly under US administration – Independence 1994)
With the end of US Sovereignty over Pacific Islands, the tiny island group’s status as the last United Nations trust territory came to an end on October 1, 1994. After having been sold by Spain to Germany, control passed to Japan in 1914, to the United States in 1944. In 1947, United Nations passed on the power officially to the United States, as part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.
Palau asked for independence in 1978 and became the Republic of Palau in 1981. It signed a Compact of Free Association with the U.S. in 1982. After eight referendums, the Compact was accepted in 1993, leading to its independence. According to the agreement, the U.S. military is granted access to the islands for 50 years. This island in the Pacific Ocean is one of world’s smallest states.
(Formerly a part of Ethiopia – Independence 1993)
This nation in Northeastern Africa underwent a struggle that resulted in its independence on May 24, 1993. Before World War II, since the 1880s, Eritrea was an Italian colony, and then it was under British control when the Italians were clobbered by the Brits in 1941. In 1952, the UN passed a ruling that Ethiopia should take the “trusteeship” of Eritrea.
But after ten years, Ethiopia got greedy and forcibly annexed (incorporate a territory into an existing state or country) Eritrea, which forced Eritreans to begin their struggle for independence that ended in 1991 when they defeated the governmental forces. Independence was overwhelmingly approved in a 1993 referendum.
* However, a border war that started in 1998 with Ethiopia is still going on.
The Czech Republic and Slovakia
(Formerly in Czechoslovakia – Independence 1993)
Ending the decades of communist rule, Czechoslovakia became a democracy in the year 1989. It was a federal republic with two components; Czech Republic with the capital in Prague and the Slovak Republic with the capital in Bratislava.
A strong secessionist movement that started in Slovakia led to the formal declaration of independence on Aug 26, 1992, for both the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. The declaration stated that the two would separate into independent states on Jan 1, 1993. Thus the 74-year-old federation came to an end.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
(Formerly a part of Yugoslavia – Independence 1992)
Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence from Yugoslavia on March 3, 1992, following a referendum. At the end of World War II, both Bosnia and Herzegovina became part of the six republics of the Communist Yugoslavia, headed by Marshall Tito. When Tito died in 1980, the iron curtain that was in place fell and Yugoslavia began to disintegrate.
In 1991, both the republics declared independence and asked for recognition by the European Union (EU). The referendum for independence led to Bosnian voters choosing independence.
Bosnia and Herzegovina are part of the triangular-shaped republic, on the Balkan Peninsula. The Bosnian area is to the north and has mountains and thick forests. Herzegovina is in the south and consists of flat and rugged farmland.
Croatia and Macedonia
(Formerly in Yugoslavia – Independence 1991)
There are other countries that became independent when Yugoslavia dissolved, such as Croatia and Macedonia that dissolved in 1991. Croatia declared independence in June 25, 1991 and Macedonia in Sep 8, 1991.
However, Macedonia wasn’t recognized by the United Nations until 1993. United States and Russia recognized it as an independent entity only in 1994.
15 Independent Countries
(Formerly the Soviet Union – Independence for 15 countries 1991)
As mentioned earlier in this article, there are many more countries that became independent since 1990. In 1991, 15 new countries declared independence – after the USSR dissolved. Most of them declared independence within a few months of the fall of the Soviet Union in late 1991.
These countries include:
Apart from this, other countries that fall into the category of “newest countries,” which became independent for various reasons, include Namibia which gained independence from South Africa; unified Yemen from North and South Yemen; unified Germany from East and West Germany; The Marshall Islands from the Trust Territory of Pacific Islands; Micronesia from the United States.
Pay attention and you will find that most of the countries in the world today are relatively new and in the development stage. Not many are over 100 years old. Separatist movements are happening all over the globe. Where are we today? Where are we heading?