The 21 Craziest Secessionist Movements

Generally, people tend to be pretty happy with the country they live in — because they move if they aren’t. However, throughout the world there are groups who want to splinter off from their government, and form their own state. Whether a new nation, or in the USA a different state, these groups firmly believe that they should their own rules. Some of them might happen, most of them won’t, but these 21 are some of the most interesting, farfetched, and just generally crazy-cool of them.

21. Rapa Nui

Rapa Nui (also known as Easter Island) is a botanically barren hunk of rock in the absolute middle of nowhere within the Pacific. If it weren’t for the enormous heads that scattered the island, it would be of no interest to anyone, as it’s too small to be self-sustaining in any meaningful way — which is why it bewilders me that they want independence from Chile. Okay, sure, I can see wanting to preserve your culture away from colonialism, but the islands would die without outside help, and the tourism market just isn’t strong enough to get people out there.

20. South Island Nationalism

New Zealand has around 4 million people, of which the South Island has maybe one million — and a couple of hundred of those want to break off from the North Island to make their own nation. What? Why? Yeah, crossing the straight between the islands is a pain in the arse, but enough to cry for separatism? On what basis? Not to mention that while the South Island is resource rich, it’s sadly lacking in infrastructure.

19. Greenland

Greenland is both the largest non-continental island on the planet, and the most sparsely populated hunk of land in existence. You’re more likely to run into someone in the middle of the Sahara than you are in Greenland. Still controlled by the Danish, Greenland has some fishing and mining, but that’s really all there is. Too cold and desolate for farming, it’s a mammoth hunk of gorgeous rock that would die without being linked to a more economically powerful nation. Sorry Inuit Ataqatigiit — despite your party’s popularity, you’ll flounder without external support.

18. New York City

Well, everyone in New York City thinks they’re in the most special place in the world, it only makes sense that they’d want their own state — or even their own country. Actually, I’m pretty sure upstate New York would be pretty happy to be rid of the city so that people can know there’s more to New York than just Manhattan. Frankly, an independent NYC isn’t that out of the question, seeing as they really don’t have much of a link to the rest of the state. The Long Island secessionists? They’re just crazy.

17. Wales

Really? Wales? Dying language Wales? Constant rain Wales? Cardiff Wales? You guys want independence? It’s not like Ireland where you’re a different island, or Scotland where there’s a longstanding sociocultural separation from England. Wales was absorbed by 1200AD, and has been part of English rule ever since. I know that there’s a strong independent Welsh streak, but what would really be gained from cutting off from England? Does Wales have a strong enough international economy to keep itself afloat, especially in a floundering eurozone?

16. Réunion

Okay, no one likes being ruled by the French. Hell, I can understand that, even the French don’t like it much, but Réunion is going to have a lot of trouble breaking off on their own. Okay, think of where Madagascar is. Now imagine an infinitesimally tiny speck of land, East from there, in the middle of the ocean. That’s Réunion, and it’s about 2,500 square-kilometers large, and has a population of less than a million. I can understand chafing under the rule of the French, especially that far away, but the island sends representatives to France, and with their sugar exports currently struggling, I don’t know if tourists would be enough to keep them going.

15. Ryūkyū independence movement

The Ryukyu islands are an interesting case. A small string of islands off the south of Japan — including Okinawa — these islands were historically an independent nation from Japan, and have a very separate history and culture from the main islands — before being conquered by the Chinese, then the Japanese, and now more or less controlled by the USA. You can imagine they’d be pissed. But again, you have a relatively small and weak set of islands that would struggle to survive on their own.

14. Southwest USA and Mexico

There’s a long connection between the Southwest of America amd Mexico, back to them being the same nation for a very, very long time. And it seems there’s a significant push to reunite the two areas into a joined nation. Both the Raza Unida Party and Voz de Aztlan (the latter an anti-semitic news agency) think that the two areas should recombine into one. Man, if they really wanted to do that, they’d have to deal with a whole bunch of really, really pissed off honkeys.

13. Vermont

Vermont, we love you. You have balling maple syrup and gay marriage. You rock. But you guys want to be your own country? That makes me sad — it’ll be much harder for me to come visit now. Apparently there was a Vermont Republic from 1771-1790, and they want it back. Former Duke University economics professor Thomas Naylor is the man behind the push, and they want to form a leftist liberterian peaceful hippy state: “left-libertarian, anti-big government, anti-empire, antiwar, with small is beautiful as our guiding philosophy.” Vermont, I’d be sad to see you go, but I don’t think a small land locked nation inside the USA would take off.

12. Occitania

Occitania is the southern chunk of France, and while you could argue there’s a major philosophical split between the temperate, hard-working north and the relaxed, Mediterrannean south, I think calling for the nation to be split in two is perhaps a bit of a problem. Seriously, they want to cleave France in twain, making the north and south completely separate. While the whole Occitane region has had its own culture and language for centuries, it has never been a nation on its own, so it lacks the historical basis that many separatists lean on to guide their principles.

11. Italy

Italy is an interesting case, it was a nation of warring states slapped together without much in the way of logic, often with very different cultures and languages. As such, there’s still a lot of tension from area to area, and a frankly ludicrous number of groups that want to set up their own separate-from-Italy nations. Just how many? Padania, Aosta Valley, Piedmont, Lombardy, Insubria, Trentino, South Tyrol, Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Liguria, Emilia, Romagna, Tuscany, Marche, Umbria, Sardinia, Sicily, and arguably the biggest is the Southern Italy independence movement. Yeah, there are a lot of them that want out, and most of them have multiple political parties backing their move.

10. Spain

Like Italy, Spain has a frankly ludicrous number of separatist movements, but they rate higher for one simple reason: the Basque. You do not fuck with the Basque. They want their own country, and aren’t afraid to be brutal terrorists to get it. The separatist movements also tend to be on the big side. Not only is there the large and powerful Basque group, but there’s also a remarkably large Catalan independence movement, as well as Galicia, Andalusia, Aragon, Asturias, Cantabria, Catille, and Leon.

9. Southern California

The movement to split California into a northern and southern half gained traction recently when a Riverside County Supervisor named Jeff Stone suggested that 13 counties from southern California break off from the north and form a separate state. This was a reaction to Governor Brown’s steep cuts to attempt to fix up California’s budget FUBAR. Man, separate the crazy sexy porn of LA and wonderful hippie San Francisco from the deeply conservative sourthern end of California? You know what? I’m down with that. Go for it.

8. Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago — for those of you who are geographically challenged as I am — are a pair of islands in the Caribbean, of which Trinidad is substantially bigger, and Tobago doesn’t have a lot going for it. Even with only 54,000 inhabitants (out of a countrywide 1.3 million), there’s still a group of people within Tobago who want to split off into their own nation. See, Trinidad has natural gas, petrochemicals and steel. Tobago is tiny and has tourism. That’s it. It’s gorgeous and an astonishing place, but that’s not enough for countryhood. Besides, breaking up Trinidad and Tobago? That’s like splitting up peanut butter and jelly! It just ain’t happening!

7. League of the South

The League of the South and other similar groups believe that the southern, ex-confederate states should be allowed to split off from the Union, and do their own thing like they wanted to originally. And I know there are a bunch of Yankees who would be completely cool with that, as most of the Southern states cost the government more than they provide, and they bitch a lot about government spending. I believe there’s a constitutional argument made for the right to secede from the union, but I don’t think there’s quite enough popular support to fully split from the North, despite all the stars and bars you see everywhere.

6. Somaliland

Somaliland is a really interesting case, because even though it hasn’t been officially recognized as a separate nation from Somalia, it’s a de facto country, with its own rules and government. They’ve self-declared independence, and a number of places kinda admit they’re in charge, but there are no governments that have officially acknowledged the separation. The pseudo-country has a clan based democratic system which incorporates a traditional council of elders into their system, thus keeping some semblance of democracy while preserving tradition. There’s even a local currency.

5. Burma/Myanmar

Burma is a very, very fucked up nation to this day. Ruled by a brutal military junta, the repressions heaped on its people are huge — which might explain why there are so many separatist movements: everyone wants to get out. There are at least 12 known separatist movements within the country, usually based around a tribal or ethnic group. There’s the Arakan, Chin people, Kachin, Karen people, Karenni, Kuki people, Mon, Nagaland, Rohingya people, Shan, Va people, and Zomi. Maybe if the country ever went properly democratic, these people wouldn’t feel so disenfranchised and eager to leave.

4. India

India is a bizarre case. As a nation, it was a combination of dozens of independent and often enemy statelets, principalites, and sultanates. This antagonism lead to the split off of Pakistan and Bangladesh, and ongoing unrest in a number of other provinces, many of whom would be very happy to carve off from the large mother state. Check out that map above, they all want to be their own country. Sure, India is huge, and splitting it up probably wouldn’t kill it, but that many independent states? It might mean the end of India as an international powerhouse.

3. Cascadia

Okay, I gotta admit, I love the idea of Cascadia. As someone who lived in the Pacific Northwest, the idea of combining British Columbia, Washington and Oregon into an enormous green, damp, and completely fucking chill country would be amazing. There’s plenty of natural resources there, good infrastructure, tourism, and Seattle already has an economy bigger than Venezuala. And you just know it would instantly become a liberal mecca, with everyone flocking there to form tech start ups, smoke weed, and play hacky-sack. I’m down.

2. State of Judea

It’s impossible to talk about Israel without causing an internet shitstorm, so I’ll avoid trying to piss off anyone more than absolutely necessary. Here are the facts: Israel is tiny — just 8,000 square miles. They’re fiercely protective of their land, and really, really don’t want the Palestinians to get their own state. So I’m bewildered to find there’s actually an Israeli group that wants their own country: the State of Judea. The idea being that it’s an Orthodox group of West Bank settlers, and if Israel ever did okay giving the land to the Palestinians, they would refuse to move, and set up their own nation. Crazy, huh?

1. Basque

I know, we’ve already covered Spain, but fuck it, these guys are hardcore enough to warrant their own mention. The Basque are the big boys of the separatist world. They’ll attack innocent people, and generally make themselves reviled in their quest for an independent nation. Thankfully, this has decreased in recent years, but the Basque still have a very interesting case for their own nation. Culturally and linguistically, they have a distinct and ancient lineage, and their language is one of the oldest still in use, completely isolated from everyone around them. I’m not entirely convinced we’ll see a Basque nation in the near future — especially not with the Eurozone in shambles — but if any group deserves its own nation, it’s these guys. But blowing things up? Really not helping things.

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