We have already talked about Texit. But an increasing number of Californians are discussing what they call ‘Calexit’. But, if anything, an independent California is more viable than a sovereign Texas. California has the 6th largest economy in the world and a population larger than Poland. The state already has enough money to spend 537 billion dollars in 2017, and also has well-established systems of education, welfare and infrastructure. At present, most Californians don’t want to leave the US, but the number who do is growing fast. In January 2017, only 18% of the state’s residents wanted an independent California. By March, that number was 32%. Of course, there are problems. California still receives about 35% of it’s funding from the US governments. On top of this, California has a huge border with America, and securing it would cost billions. But with a planned ballot initiative in 2018 and hopes of a state wide vote in 2019, a Calexit is not so far fetched as it might sound.
Spain seems like a perfectly nice country. Good food, midday naps, a weird desire to be chased around by bulls, all that good stuff. Yet there are huge number of people desperate to leave the nation. Catalonia has been vying to split with Spain for so long that it has practically become the poster child for regional independence. Ever since losing a war against the Spanish Royal family in the 1600s, the people of Catalonia have wanted to leave Spain. And after hundreds of years, it looks like they might finally get their wish. Between 2009 and 2011, 552 towns across Catalonia held symbolic independence referendums with all of them voting in favor of Catalonia leaving Spain. In 2014, a region-wide referendum was held across Catalonia and 88% of voters backed independence. The Spainish government has so far ignored all of these results pointing out that they almost all had low turnouts and that the referendums were never officially sanctioned in the first place. But Carles Puigdemont, the leader of Catalonia’s independence movement, vows that he will force the Spanish government to hold a binding referendum on Catalonia’s sovereignty in 2017. And with the current government only winning 28% of the national vote in the last election supporting Catalonia’s independence would be an easy way for an opportunistic party to pick up some extra support.
When you think of Somalia, you probably think of pirates. And no, not cool drunk Johnny Depp pirates. Actual modern day pirates who raid cruise ships, kidnap tourists, and hardly ever fight magical cursed skeletons. Well, Somaliland is fighting hard to defeat that chaotic reputation. It may sound like a theme park, but Somaliland is actually an autonomous region of Somalia, one that basically acts as it’s own nation. Despite being in the middle of a pirate hellscape, Somaliland has run itself with admirable success since it declared itself independent from the rest of the country in 1991. It has it’s own government, army, and currency, as well as a justice system that stands in stark contrast to the general lawlessness of Somalia. Somaliland has been trying for decades to gain international recognition which would allow it to take on the international loans needed to build up it’s infrastructure, roads, and an electricity grid. Out of a loyalty to Somalia’s government, no other nations have yet recognized Somaliland. But in 2014, the city councils of SHeffiled and Cardiff both voted to throw their- admittedly pretty meaningless- support behind Somaliland. In 2015, the United Kingdom Independence Party of all people become the first western political party to support Somaliland’s international recognition.
4. South Ossetia
Depending on who you ask, South Ossetia is either an independent nation or a region of Georgia. In 1991 Ossetia declared itself independent from Georgia, leading a war between the two. Over a thousand people died, and the result was completely unsatisfying. South Ossetia was allowed to run it’s own affairs, but had to remain technically part of Georgia. Since then, the Ossetians have made several attempts to leave Georgia. In 1992, an independent referendum was held and 99.9% of Ossetians voted in favor of it. A second referendum was held in 2006, which found that support for independence had dropped to 99.8%. Both referendums were ignored, and experts believe that the one held in April 2017 will be as well. However, South Ossetia has one very powerful friend- Russia. The Russians fought Georgia on behalf of the Ossetians in 2008, and, as we have seen in Ukraine thay are still willing to involve themselves militarily in Europe. Being friends with Putin might not be how most of us would want spend our Saturday nights but for South Ossetia it could hols the key to their independence.
5. East Turkestan
Here’s a country that most of us can agree we definitely don’t want- the Islamic State of East Turkestan. Since 1998 a terrorist group known as East Turkestan Islamic Party has been fighting the Chinese government for independence. Based in the north west of China, the group aims to establish an independent country under their rule, much like the ISIS caliphate in the Middle East. In this nation, the women, non-muslims would all be stripped of their rights. The East Turkestan Islamic Party has been committed to forming it’s own nation for decades performing 200 acts of terrorism against China between 1990 and 2001. Those terrorists acts caused at least 162 deaths, and injured around 440 people. They are believed to have orchestrated the 2015 bombing of Bangkok, which killed 20 people. In 2016, they even managed to set up a recruitment center in ISIS-owned Syria. The good news is that the East Turkestan Islamic Party doesn’t have the resources of ISIS, let alone of China. But with more supporters pouring in from the Islamic State, East Turkestan could become enough of a headache to force the Chinese government out of the area.
6. Serb Republic
When policy experts, polling, and the director of the CIA all suggest that your country is going to split up, then your country is probably going to split up. The nation of Bosnia and Herzegovina was created in 1995, drawn up after the brutal Bosnian War. Feeling unrepresented in the new state, the Serbian people decided to set up their own country, the Serb Republic, within Bosnia and Herzegovina. Although the Serb Republic has it’s own government and is more or less allowed to do its own thing Gallup poplling from 2010 still suggests that as many as 88% of Serbs wanted their country to be independent. The Serbian Republic planned a referendum on independence in 2011, but the EU stepped in to prevent it. The Serbs listened to the EU last time, but with anti-EU sentiment at an all time high an unemployment rate of 40%frustrating citizens and another referendum being promised by the republic’s leader Milorad Dodik, is a sovereign Serb Republic that unlikely? Former CIA director and Balkans expert Steven Meyer doesn’t think so. In 2013 and 2014, he repeatedly argued that the country would become independent in a matter of years.
7. Flanders and Walloon
It may just be an innocent Simpsons quote, but there are parts of Europe where saying “stupid Flanders” would get you beaten up. For those of you not expertly versed in Belgian history, here’s the explaination- When Belgium was first formed, it was created out of two distinct regions, Flanders and Wallonia. These regions had two distinct peoples, the Flemish and the excellently named Walloons. Flanders and Wallonia have completely different cultures, histories, and even languages. Though they mainly co-exist peacefully, tensions may remained high enough throughout the years for both sides to continually push for independence. In the 2010 Belgium national elections, pro-Flemish parties won all the seats in the Flanders region and pro-Walloon parties won all the seats in Wallonia. With almost equal seats, neither party could agree on anything, and Belgium was without a government for over 500 days. With the two sides more polarized than ever, and another election coming up in 2019 the Flemish and the Walloons may find it easier to live in two separate nations.
8. Independent Texas
It’s called the Lone Star State for a reason- Texas has always wanted to do it’s own thing. And when you are bigger than Germany and all armed to the teeth, no one’s really going to stop you. Texas seccession has been touted ever since they joined the Union at the end of the Civil War. But now it has re-entered the popular imagination as a real possibility. In 2009, Texas governor Rick Perry suggested that he thought Texas might leave the US if the national government kept meddling in state affairs. Back then only 18% of the Texans supported secession but data from Public Policy Polling shows that now as many as 40% want the state to go it alone. In 2015, secessionist fires were fanned when conspiracy theories started spreading the idea that the US was planning to use military training exercises to invade and take over Texas, despite the US already owning Texas. And so with fears of big government pervading, and the example of Brexit to follow an increasing number of Texans are hoping for a Texit.
9. New Kurdistan
ISIS sure makes some strange bedfellows. Before the terrorist group started jihad-ing around Syria, Assad and his regime were happy to keep the Kurds in Syria’s north suppressed. Ever since Syria was declared a nation in 1946, the Kurds have desired independence from the rest of the state. These desires were compounded when, in 1962, a Syrian government census failed to survey 20% of the Kurdish population. As a result, around 120,000 Kurds were stripped of their citizenship and many had their land taken from them and given to Arab settlers. However, the threat of ISIS has forced Assad and the Kurdish to play nicely with each other. Although Assad briedly used his war on ISIS as excuse to bomb the Kurds into the ground the two sides are increasingly working together against their common enemy. Putin has even stepped in and promised the ethnic Kurds autonomy if they agree to work alongside the Russia-Assad coalition.
10. Unified Korea
Forcing South Korea and North Korea to share one country may sound like some weird geopolitical version of the Odd Couple. After all, one’s a reasonably successful capitalist democracy and the other’s a batshit insane communist dictatorship led by a chubby little psychopath with a bad quiff. But unification have benefits for both North and South Koreans. The South would suddenly have access to the North’s 10 trillion dollar worth of mineral wealth. And the North Koreans would stop starving to death and being executed for listening to western music. So it’s win win. The biggest problem for unification is, of course, Kim Jong Un. Having everyone believe that you are demigod who could drive from the age of three and has a mind ‘more powerful than nuclear weapons’ is probably pretty great. As is living in luxury when most of your people suffer some severe malnutrition. However, with North Korea’s government getting crueler and it’s people getting more desperate a revolution and opening of the North’s borders is far from impossible.