Thirteen British colonies on the east coast of North America issued a Declaration of Independence in 1776
Chile, one of several Spanish territories in South America, issued a Declaration of independence in 1818
Pedro surrounded by a crowd in São Paulo after breaking the news of Brazil's independence on September 7, 1822.
The Finnish Senate of 1917, Prime Minister P. E. Svinhufvud in the head of table. The Senate declared Finland independent on December 4, 1917, and it was confirmed by parliament December 6, 1917[1] which became the Independence Day of Finland.

Independence is a condition of a person, nation, country, or state in which residents and population, or some portion thereof, exercise self-government, and usually sovereignty, over its territory. The opposite of independence is the status of a dependent territory.

Definition of independence

Whether the attainment of independence is different from revolution has long been contested, and has often been debated over the question of violence as legitimate means to achieving sovereignty.[2] In general, revolutions aim only to redistribute power with or without an element of emancipation, such as in democratization within a state, which as such may remain unaltered. For example, the Mexican Revolution (1917) chiefly refers to a multi-factional conflict that eventually led to a new constitution; it has rarely been used to refer to the armed struggle (1821) against Spain. However, some wars of independence have been described as revolutions, such as the ones in the United States (1783) and Indonesia (1949), while some revolutions that were specifically about a change in the political structure have resulted in breakaway states. Mongolia and Finland, for example, gained their independence during the revolutions occurring in China (1911) and Russia (1917) respectively. Causes for a country or province wishing to seek independence are many, but most can be summed up as a feeling of inequality compared to the dominant power. The means can extend from intended peaceful demonstrations as in the case of India (1947), to a violent war as in the case of Algeria (1962). In some cases, a country may also have declared independence, but may only be partially recognized by other countries; such as Kosovo (2008), whose independence Serbia, from which Kosovo has seceded, has not recognized.[3][4][5]

Distinction between independence and autonomy

Autonomy 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 protectorate refers to an autonomous region that depends upon a larger government for its protection as an autonomous region.

Declarations of independence

photograph of crowd around flag raising
Celebrating of the Estonian Declaration of Independence in Pärnu, Estonia on February 24, 1918
Ismail Qemali at the first anniversary of the Assembly of Vlorë which proclaimed the independence of Albania (November 28, 1912)

Sometimes, a state wishing to achieve independence from a dominating power will issue a declaration of independence; the earliest surviving example is Scotland's Declaration of Arbroath in 1320, with the most recent example being Azawad's declaration of independence in 2012. Declaring independence and attaining it, however, are quite different. A well-known successful example is the U.S. Declaration of Independence issued in 1776. The dates of established independence (or, less commonly, the commencement of revolution), are typically celebrated as a national holiday known as an independence Day.

Historical overview

Historically, there have been four major periods of declaring independence:


See also