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Colonialism in 1945

Decolonization is the process by which a colony gains independence from a colonial power, a process opposite to colonization. Decolonization may involve peaceful negotiation and/or violent revolt by the native population. Decolonization in the strict sense is distinct from the break-up of traditional empires, and in modern academic discourse the period of decolonization generally refers to two major waves of independence from European colonial rule:

From the late 18th century up through 19th century decolonization in the Americas occurred, beginning with American colonists' revolt against British rule in the present-day United States, and continuing through the collapse of the Spanish and Portuguese empires in Latin America.

In the 20th and 21st centuries "decolonization" usually refers to the achievement of independence by the various European colonies and protectorates in Asia and Africa following World War II. A particularly active period of decolonization occurred between 1945 to 1960, beginning with the independence of Pakistan and India from Great Britain in 1947.


Methods & Stages

Decolonization is a political process, frequently involving violence. In extreme circumstances, there is a War of Independence sometimes following on a revolution. More often, there is a dynamic cycle where negotiations fail, minor disturbances ensue resulting in suppression by the police and military forces, escalating into more violent revolts that lead to further negotiations until independence is granted. In rare cases, the actions of the native population are characterized by non-violence, India being an example of this, and the violence comes as active suppression from the occupying forces or as political opposition from forces representing minority local communities who feel threatened by the prospect of independence. For example, there was a war of independence in French Indochina, while in some countries in French West Africa (excluding the Maghreb countries) decolonization resulted from a combination of insurrection and negotiation. The process is only complete when the de facto government of the newly independent country is recognized as the de jure sovereign state by the community of nations.

Independence is difficult to achieve without encouragement and practical support from one or more external parties. The motives for giving such aid are varied: nations of the same ethnic and/or religious stock may sympathize with oppressed groups, or a strong nation may attempt to destabilize a colony as a tactical move to weaken a rival or enemy colonizing power or to create space for its own sphere of influence (e.g. the American Monroe doctrine for the entire Western hemisphere).

As world opinion became more pro-emancipation following World War I, there was an institutionalized collective effort to advance the cause of emancipation through the League of Nations. Under Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, a number of mandates were created. The expressed intention was to prepare these countries for self-government, but the reality was merely a redistribution of control over the former colonies of the defeated powers, mainly Germany and the Ottoman Empire. This reassignment work continued through the United Nations, with a similar system of trust territories created to adjust control over both former colonies and mandated territories administered by the nations defeated in World War II, including Japan.

In referenda, some colonized populations have chosen to retain their colonial status, e.g. Puerto Rico, Gibraltar, and the Falklands. Equally, some colonial powers have promoted decolonization in order to shed the financial, military and other burdens that tend to grow in those colonies where the regimes have become more benign.

Empires have expanded and contracted throughout history but, in several respects, the modern phenomenon of decolonization has produced different outcomes. Now, when states surrender both the de facto rule of their colonies and their de jure claims to such rule, the ex-colonies are generally not absorbed by other powers. Further, the former colonial powers have in most cases not only continued existing, but have also maintained their status as Powers, retaining strong economic and cultural ties with their former colonies. Through these ties, former colonial powers have ironically maintained a significant proportion of the previous benefits of their empires, but with smaller costs — thus, despite frequent resistance to demands for decolonization, the outcomes have satisfied the colonizers' self-interests.

Decolonization is rarely achieved through a single historical act, but rather progresses through one or more stages of emancipation, each of which can be offered or fought for: these can include the introduction of elected representatives (advisory or voting; minority or majority or even exclusive), degrees of autonomy or self-rule. Thus, the final phase of decolonization may in fact concern little more than handing over responsibility for foreign relations and security, and soliciting de jure recognition for the new sovereignty. But, even following the recognition of statehood, a degree of continuity can be maintained through bilateral treaties between now equal governments involving practicalities such as military training, mutual protection pacts or even a garrison and/or military bases.

Decolonization in broad sense

Stretching the notion further, internal decolonization can occur within a sovereign state. Thus, the expansive United States created territories, destined to colonize conquered lands bordering the existing states, and once their development proved successful (often involving new geographical splits) allowed them to petition statehood within the federation, granting not external independence but internal equality as 'sovereign' constutuent mebers of the federal Union.

Even in a state which legally doesn't colonize any of its 'integral' parts, real inequality often causes the politically dominant component - often the largest and/or most populous part (such as Russia within the formally federal USSR as earlier in the czar's empire), or the historical conqueror (such as Austria, the homelands of the ruling Habsburg dynasty, within an empire of mainly Slavonic 'minorities' from Silesia to the shifting Ottoman border)- to be perceived, at least subjectively, as a colonizer in all but name; hence the dismemberment of such a 'prison of peoples' is perceived as decolonization de facto.

To complicate matters even further, this may coincide with another element. Thus, the three Baltic republics -Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania- argue that they, in contrary with other constituant SSRs, could not be granted independence at the dismemberment of the Soviet Union because they never joined, but were militarily annexed by Stalin, and thus had been illegally colonized, including massive deportations of their nationals and uninvited immigration of ethnic Russians and other soviet nationalities. Even in other post-Soviet states which had formally acceded, most ethnic Russians were so much identified with the Soviet 'colonization' that they were made to feel so unwelcome that they migrated back to Russia.

History of decolonization

In this chronological overview, not every date is undisputably the decisive moment. Often, the final phase, independence, is mentioned here, though there may be years of autonomy before, e.g. as an Associated State under the British crown. For such details, see each national history.

Furthermore, note that some cases have been included that were not strictly colonized but rather protectorate, co-dominium, lease ... Changes subsequent to decolonization are usually not included; nor is the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

18th and 19th centuries

1776 Great Britain The 13 original colonies of the United States declare independence a year after their armed revolt begins.
1783 Great Britain The British Crown recognizes the independence of the United States.
1803 France Via the Louisiana purchase, the last French territories in North America are handed over to the United States.
1804 France Haiti declares independence, the first non-white nation to emancipate itself from European rule.
1808 Portugal Brazil, the largest Portuguese colony, achieves independence after the exiled king of Portugal establishes residence there. After he returns home in 1815, his son and regent declares an independent "Empire" in 1822.
1813 Spain Paraguay becomes independent.
1816 Spain Argentina declares independence (Uruguay, then included in Argentina, would achieve its independence in 1828, after periods of Brazilian occupation and of federation with Argentina)
1818 Spain Second and final declaration of independence of Chile
1819 Spain Colombia (then New Granada) attains independence; Panama will secede from it in 1901 to become an independent nation.
1821 SpainThe Dominican Republic (then Santo Domingo), Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica all declare independence; Venezuela and Mexico both achieve independence.
1822 Spain Ecuador attains independence from Spain (and independence from Colombia 1830).
1824 Spain Peru and Bolivia attain independence.
1865 Spain The Dominican Republic gains its final independence after four years as a restored colony.
1868 Spain Cuba declares independence and is reconquered; taken by the United States in 1898; governed under U.S. military administration until 1902.

Between the World Wars and during the second

Western European colonial powers

The end of the Great War marked the zenith of European colonization. It also marked the acceleration of the trends that would end it. The extraordinary material demands of the conflict had spread economic change across the world (notably inflation), and the associated social pressures of "war imperialism" created both peasant unrest and a burgeoning middle class.

Economic growth created stakeholders with their own demands, while racial issues meant these people clearly stood apart from the colonial middle-class and had to form their own group. The start of mass nationalism, as a concept and practice, would fatally undermine the ideologies of imperialism.

There were, naturally, other factors, from agrarian change (and disaster – French Indochina), changes or developments in religion (Buddhism in Burma, Islam in the Dutch East Indies, marginally people like John Chilembwe in Nyasaland), and the impact of the depression of the 1930s.

The Great Depression, despite the concentration of its impact on the industrialized world, was exceptionally damaging in the rural colonies. Agricultural prices fell much harder and faster than those of industrial goods, from around 1925 until the return of War the colonies suffered. The colonial powers concentrated on domestic issues, protectionism and tariffs, disregarding the damage done to international trade flows. The colonies, almost all primary "cash crop" producers, lost the majority of their export income and were forced away from the "open" complementary colonial economies to "closed" systems. While some areas returned to subsistence farming (British Malaya) others diversified (India, West Africa), and some began to industrialise. These economies would not fit the colonial strait-jacket when efforts were made to renew the links. Further, the European-owned and -run plantations proved highly vulnerable to extended deflation than native capitalists, reducing the dominance of "white" farmers in colonial economies and making the European governments and investors of the 1930s co-opt indigenous elites — despite the implications for the future.

The efforts at colonial reform also hastened their end — notably the move from non-interventionist collaborative systems towards directed, disruptive, direct management to drive economic change. The creation of genuine bureaucratic government boosted the formation of indigenous bourgeoisie. This was especially true in the British Empire, which seemed less capable (or less ruthless) in controlling political nationalism. Driven by pragmatic demands of budgets and manpower the British made deals with the nationalist elites. They dealt with the white Dominions, retained strategic resources at the cost of reducing direct control in Egypt, and made numerous reforms in the Raj, culminating in the Government of India Act (1935).

Africa was a very different case from Asia between the wars. Tropical Africa was not fully drawn into the colonial system before the end of the 19th century, excluding only the complexities of the Union of South Africa (busily introducing segregation from 1924 and thus catalysing the anti-colonial political growth of half the continent) and the Empire of Ethiopia. Colonial controls ranged between extremes. Economic growth was often curtailed. There were no indigenous nationalist groups with widespread popular support before 1939.

The Soviet Union

In Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union fought a war with Finland, seizing territories inhabited by Finnish people until the war with Finland reached a standoff. The Soviet Union also dominated several neighboring countries (such as Lithuania, Latvia and Kazakhstan, inter alia), eventually incorporating some of them into the national territory of the Soviet Union by making them constituent Soviet republics.

Following World War II, the Soviet Union expelled millions of ethnic Germans from historical Eastern Germany east of the Oder and Neisse rivers, as well as from the Soviet Union itself (see also displaced persons). Many of the territories thus seized by the Soviet Union were granted to other Soviet-bloc countries, although the Soviet Union appropriated Königsburg for itself, creating the present-day Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.

In Asia, the Soviet Union seized the Kuriles from defeated Japan in 1945, making them part of Soviet territory.

The Americas

At end of the Spanish-American War at the end of the 19th century, the United States of America held several colonial territories seized from Spain—among these were, inter alia, the Philippines and Puerto Rico. Although the U.S. had initially embarked upon a policy of colonization of these territories (and had fought to suppress local insurgencies there, such as in the Phillipines Insurgency), by the 1930s the U.S. policy for the Phillipines had changed toward the direction of eventual self-government. Following the invasion and occupation of the Phillipines by Japan during World War II, the Phillipines gained independence peacefully from the United States.

However, other U.S. colonies, such as Puerto Rico, did not gain full independence, despite active independence movements and occasional insurgencies. Puerto Rico remains in commonwealth with the United States, with all the international affairs of Puerto Rico handled by the United States government.


As the only Asian nation to become a colonial power during the modern era, Japan had gained several substantial colonial concessions (such as Taiwan and Korea, inter alia) in east Asia. Pursuing a colonial policy comparable to those of European powers, Japan settled significant populations of ethnic Japanese in its colonies while simultaneously suppressing indigenous ethnic populations by enforcing the learning and use of the Japanese language in schools and public interaction, and attempting to eradicate the use of Korean and Chinese among the indigenous peoples, for example.

World War II gave Japan occasion to conquer vast swaths of Asia, sweeping into China and seizing the European colonies of Vietnam, Hong Kong, the Phillipines, Burma and Indonesia (among others), albeit only for the duration of the war. Following its surrender to the Allies in 1945, on the other hand, Japan was deprived of all its colonies; Japan further claims that the southern Kuril Islands are a small portion of its own national territory, colonized by the Soviet Union.

1919 United Kingdom End of the protectorate over Afghanistan, when Britain accepts the presence of a Soviet ambassador in Kabul.
1921 China The weak empire loses all control over Outer Mongolia (retaining the larger, progressively sinified, Inner Mongolia), which has been granted autonomy in 1912 (as well as Tibet), and now becomes a popular republic and, as of 1924, a de facto satellite of the USSR. Formal recognition of Mongolia will follow in 1945.
1923 United Kingdom End of the de facto protectorate over Nepal which was never truly colonized.
1930 United Kingdom The United Kingdom returns the leased port territory at Weihaiwei to China, the first episode of decolonization in East Asia.
1931 United Kingdom The Statute of Westminster grants virtually full independence to Canada, New Zealand, Newfoundland, the Irish Free State, the Commonwealth of Australia, and the Union of South Africa, when it declares the British parliament incapable of passing law over these former colonies without their own consent.
1932 United Kingdom Ends League of Nations Mandate over Iraq. Britain continues to station troops in the country and influence the Iraqi government until 1958.
1934 United States Makes the Philippine Islands a Commonwealth. Abrogates Platt Amendment, which gave it direct authority to intervene in Cuba.
1941 France Lebanon declares independence, effectively ending the French mandate (previously together with Syria) - it is recognized in 1943.
Italy Ethiopia, Eritrea & Tigre (appended to it), and the Italian part of Somalia are liberated by the Allies after an uneasy occupation since 1935-36, and no longer joined as one colonial federal state; the Ogaden desert (disputed by Somalia) remains under British military control until 1948.

From World War II to the present

1945 Japan Korea is independent after 40 years of Japanese rule, but then splits into communist North Korea and capitalist South Korea.
1946 United States The Philippines are granted independence by the United States, which obtained them by replacing its historical colonizor, Spain.
United Kingdom The former emirate of Transjordan (present-day Jordan) becomes an independent Hashemite kingdom when Britain relinquishes UN trusteeship.
1947 United Kingdom India and Pakistan (including present-day Bangladesh) achieve independence in an attempt to separate the predominantly Hindu and Muslim parts of former British India.
1948 United Kingdom In the Far East, Burma and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) become independent. In the Middle East, Israel becomes independent less than a year after the British government withdraws from the Palestine Mandate; the remainder of Palestine becomes part of the Arab states of Egypt and Transjordan.
1949 France Laos becomes independent.
The Netherlands Independence of Indonesia is recognized.
1951 Italy Libya becomes an independent kingdom.
1952 United States Puerto Rico in the Antilles becomes an overseas Commonwealth, not independent.
1953 France France recognizes Cambodia's independence.
1954 France Vietnam's independence recognized, though the nation is partitioned. The Pondichery enclave is incorporated into India.
United Kingdom The United Kingdom withdraws from the last part of Egypt it controls: the Suez Canal zone.
1956 United Kingdom Anglo-Egyptian Sudan becomes independent.
France Tunisia and the sherifian kingdom of Morocco in the Maghreb achieve independence.
1957 United Kingdom Ghana becomes independent, initiating the decolonization of sub-Saharan Africa.
United Kingdom The Federation of Malaya becomes independent.
1958 France Guinea on the coast of West-Africa is granted independence.
United States Signing the Alaska Statehood Act by Dwight D. Eisenhower, granting Alaska the possibility of the equal rights of statehood
United Kingdom UN trustee Britain withdraws from Iraq, which becomes an independent Hashemite Kingdom (like Jordan, but soon to become a republic through the first of several coups d'état).
1960 United Kingdom Nigeria, British Somaliland (present-day Somalia), and most of Cyprus become independent, though the UK retains sovereign control over Akrotiri and Dhekelia.
France Benin (then Dahomey), Upper Volta (present-day Burkina Faso), Cameroon, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, the Mali Federation (split the same year into present-day Mali and Senegal), Mauritania, Niger, Togo and the Central African Republic (the Oubangui Chari) and Madagascar all become independent.
Belgium The Belgian Congo (also known as Congo-Kinshasa, later renamed Zaire and presently the Democratic Republic of the Congo), becomes independent.
1961 United Kingdom Tanganyika (formerly a German colony under UK trusteeship, merged to federal Tanzania in 1962 with the island of Zanzibar, formerly a proper British colony wrested from the Omani sultanate); Sierra Leone, Kuwait and British Cameroon become independent. South Africa declares independence.
Portugal The former coastal enclave colonies of Goa, Daman and Diu are taken over by India.
1962 United Kingdom Zambia and Malawi (formerly Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland respectively), The Gambia and Uganda in Africa, and Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago in the Caribbean, achieve independence.
France Algeria becomes independent.
Belgium Rwanda and Burundi (then Urundi) attain independence through the ending of the Belgian trusteeship.
New Zealand The South Sea UN trusteeship over the Polynesian kingdom of Western Samoa (formerly German Samoa and nowadays called just Samoa) is relinquished.
1963 United Kingdom Kenya becomes independent.
United Kingdom Singapore, together with Sarawak and Sabah on North Borneo, form Malaysia with the pensinsular Federation of Malaya.
1964 United Kingdom The Mediterranean island of Malta becomes independent.
1965 United Kingdom Southern Rhodesia (the present Zimbabwe) declares independence as Rhodesia, a second Apartheid regime, but is not recognized. Gambia is recognized as independent. The British protectorate over the Maldives archipelago in the Indian Ocean is ended.
1966 United Kingdom In the Caribbean, Barbados and Guyana; and in Africa, Botswana (then Bechuanaland) and Lesotho become independent.
1967 United Kingdom On the Arabian peninsula, Aden colony becomes independent as South Yemen, to be united with formerly Ottoman North Yemen in 1990-1991.
1968 United Kingdom Mauritius and Swaziland achieve independence.
Portugal After nine years of organized guerilla resistance, most of Guinea-Bissau comes under native control.
Spain Equatorial Guinea (then Rio Muni) is made independent.
Australia Relinquishes UN trusteeship (nominally shared by the United Kingdom and New Zealand) of Nauru in the South Sea.
1971 United Kingdom Fiji and Tonga in the South Sea are given independence.
United Kingdom Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and six Trucial States (the same year federating as United Arab Emirates become independent Arab monarchies in the Persian Gulf as the British protectorates are lifted.
1973 United Kingdom The Bahamas are granted independence.
Portugal Guerillas unilaterally declare independence in the Southeastern regions of Guinea-Bissau.
1974 United Kingdom Grenada in the Caribbean becomes independent.
Portugal Guinea-Bissau on the coast of West-Africa is recognized as independent by Portugal.
1975 France The Comoros archipelago in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa is granted independence.
Portugal Angola, Mozambique and the island groups of Cape Verde and São Tomé and Príncipe, all four in Africa, achieve independence. East Timor declares independence, but is subsequently occupied and annexed by Indonesia nine days later.
The Netherlands Suriname (then Dutch Guiana) becomes independent.
Australia Released from trusteeship, Papua New Guinea gains independence.
1976 United Kingdom Seychelles archipelago in the Indian Ocean off the African coast becomes independent (one year after granting of self-rule).
Spain Colonial rule terminated over the Western Sahara (then Rio de Oro), but it is partitioned between Mauritania and Morocco (which annexes the entire territory in 1979), rendering the declared independence of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic ineffective to the present day.
1977 France French Somaliland, also known as Afar & Issa-land (after its main tribal groups), the present Djibouti, is granted independence.
1978 United Kingdom Dominica in the Caribean and the Solomon Islands, as well as Tuvalu (then the Ellice Islands), all in the South Sea, become independent.
1979 United States Returns the Panama Canal Zone (held under a regime sui generis since 1903) to the republic of Panama.
United Kingdom The Gilbert Islands (present-day Kiribati) in the South Sea as well as Saint Vincent (& the Grendines) and Saint Lucia in the Caribean become independent.
1980 United Kingdom Zimbabwe (then [Southern] Rhodesia), already independent de facto, becomes formally independent. The joint Anglo-French colony of the New Hebrides becomes the independent island republic of Vanuatu.
1981 United Kingdom Belize (then British Honduras) and Antigua & Barbuda become independent.
1983 United Kingdom Saint Kitts and Nevis (an associated state since 1963) becomes independent.
1984 United Kingdom Brunei sultanate on Borneo becomes independent.
1990 South Africa Namibia becomes independent from South Africa.
United States The UN Security Council gives final approval to end the U.S. Trust territory of the Pacific (dissolved already in 1986), finalizing the independence of The Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia, having before trusteeship been a colonial possession of the empire of Japan.
1994 United States Palau (after a transitional period as a Republic since 1981, and before part of the U.S. Trust territory of the Pacific) becomes independent from its former trustee, having before trusteeship been a mandate of the Japanese Empire.
1997 United Kingdom The sovereignty of Hong Kong is returned to China, ending Britain's 99-year lease over the territory.
1999 Portugal The sovereignty of Macau is returned to China on schedule as the lease period has expired. It is the last in a series of coastal enclaves that militarily stronger powers had obtained through treaties from the Chinese Empire. Like Hong Kong, it is not organized into the existing provincial structure applied to other provinces of the People's Republic of China, but is guaranteed a quasi-autonomous system of government within the People's Republic of China.
2002 Indonesia East Timor formally achieves independence after a transitional UN administration, three years after Indonesia ended its quarter-century military occupation of the former Portuguese colony.

UN Resolution 1514

A milestone of major importance was Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV), on 14 December 1960.

Eighty-nine countries voted in favour, none voted against, and nine abstained: Australia, Belgium, Dominican Republic, France, Portugal, Spain, Union of South Africa, United Kingdom, and United States. These nine included all the major colonial powers.

In 2000, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Resolution 1514, UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 55/146 that declared 2001–2010 the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism.

Post-colonial organizations

Former Colonial Power Organization Founded
Britain Commonwealth of Nations 1931
Commonwealth Realms 1931
Associated states 1967
France L'Union Française 1946
Communauté française d'Afrique 1958
Francophonie 1970
Spain & Portugal Latin Union 1954
Iberian-American summit 1991
Community of Portuguese Language Countries 1996
United States Commonwealths 1934
Freely Associated States 1982
European Union ACP countries 1975

Due to a common history and culture, former colonial powers created institutions which more loosely associated their former colonies. Membership is voluntary, and in some cases can be revoked if a member state loses some objective criteria (usually a requirement for democratic governance). The organizations serve cultural, economic, and political purposes between the associated countries, although no such organization has become politically prominent as an entity in its own right.

Differing perspectives

There is quite a bit of controversy over decolonization. The end goal tends to be universally regarded as good, but there has been much debate over the best way to grant full independence.

Decolonization and political instability

Some say the post–World War II decolonization movement was too rushed, especially in Africa, and resulted in the creation of unstable regimes in the newly independent countries.

Others argue that this instability is largely the result of problems from the colonial period, including arbitrary nation-state borders, lack of training of local populations and disproportional economy.

Economic effects

John Kenneth Galbraith argues that the post-WWII decolonization was brought about for economic reasons. In A Journey Through Economic Time, he writes, "The engine of economic well-being was now within and between the advanced industrial countries. Domestic economic growth — as now measured and much discussed — came to be seen as far more important than the erstwhile colonial trade... The economic effect in the United States from the granting of independence to the Philippines was unnoticeable. The departure of India and Pakistan made small economic difference in Britain. Dutch economists calculated that the economic effect from the loss of the great Dutch empire in Indonesia was compensated for by a couple of years or so of domestic post-war economic growth. The end of the colonial era is celebrated in the history books as a triumph of national aspiration in the former colonies and of benign good sense on the part of the colonial powers. Lurking beneath, as so often happens, was a strong current of economic interest — or in this case, disinterest."

Settled populations

Decolonization is not an easy matter in colonies where a large population of settlers lives, particularly if they have been there for several generations. This population, in general, may have to be repatriated, often losing considerable property. For instance, the decolonization of Algeria by France was particularly uneasy due to the large European and Sephardic Jewish population (see also pied noir), which largely evacuated to France when Algeria became independent. In Zimbabwe, former Rhodesia, president Robert Mugabe has, starting in the 1990s, targetted white farmers and forcibly seized their property. In some cases, decolonization is hardly possible or impossible because of the importance of the settler population or where the indigenous population is now in the minority; such is the case of the British population of the Cayman Islands and the Russian population of Kazakhstan, for example.

Cold-war era

Another interesting idea is that many of these post-WWII independence movements were brought on by Soviet influence, either by direct subversion of a Western-leaning or -controlled government or by the more benign influence of political leadership and support. Many of the revolutions of this time period were inspired or influenced in this way. The conflicts in Vietnam, Nicaragua, Congo, and Sudan, among others, have been characterized as such. Beginning with Stalin, most Soviet leaders had expressed the traditional Marxist view that imperialism was the height of capitalism, and generated a class-stratified society. It followed, then, that Soviet leadership would encourage independence movements in colonized territories, especially as the Cold War progressed. Because so many of these wars of independence expanded into general Cold War conflicts, the U.S. also supported several such independence movements in opposition to Soviet interests.

See also


  • Wars of national liberation are conflicts fought in an attempt at independence by indigenous populations against imperial powers.
  • United Nations Trust Territories were the successors of the League of Nations mandates after that organization's dissolution.
  • The Non-aligned movement is a group of nations considering themselves not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc.
  • Neocolonialism is a form of indirect domination through economic, financial and trade policies.

Philosophy, theory & literature:

  • Post-colonialism is a set of theories grappling with the legacy of 19th century British and French colonial rule, especially with the development of a post-colonial national identity.
  • Postcolonial theory is a literary theory or critical approach that deals with literature produced in countries that were once colonies of other countries.
  • Postcolonial literature is a branch of literature concerned with the political and cultural independence of peoples formerly subjugated in colonial empires.

By continent:


  • Georg Westermann Verlag. Westermann Grosser Atlas zur Weltgeschichte. Westermann (1997). ISBN 3075095206
  • John Keay. Last Post: The End Of Empire In The Far East. John Murray (1997) ISBN 0719553466

External links


fr:Décolonisation it:Decolonizzazione pl:Dekolonizacja


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