Stateless nation

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Stateless nation is a political term for ethnic/national minority that does not possess its own state[1] and is not the majority population in any nation state.[2] The term implies that the group "should have" such a state.[3] Members of stateless ethnic groups may be citizens/nationals of the country in which they live, or they may be denied citizenship by that country. Stateless nations are usually not represented as a nation in international sports such as FIFA, Olympics or in international communities such as the United Nations. Nations without state are classified as fourth world nations.[4][5][6] Some of the stateless nations have a great heritage and a long tradition of statehood in the past and some were always a stateless nation, which was dominated by another nation for a large part of its history.

Stateless nations either are dispersed across a number of states (for example, the Yoruba people are found in the African states of Nigeria, Benin and Togo) or form the native population of a province within a larger state (such as the Uyghur people in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region within the People's Republic of China). Some stateless nations historically had a state, which was absorbed by another; for example, Tibet's declaration of independence in 1913 was not recognized, and it was invaded in 1951 by the People's Republic of China which claims that Tibet is an integral part of China, while the Tibetan government-in-exile maintains that Tibet is an independent state under unlawful occupation.[7][8] Some ethnic groups were once a stateless nation that later became a nation state (for example, the nations of the Balkan such as the Croats, Serbs, Bosniaks, Slovenes, Montenegrins, Kosovars and Macedonians were once part of a multinational state of Yugoslavia. Since the breakup of Yugoslavia many nation states were formed). The Romani people may be a special case, being distributed among numerous countries with no clear homeland; as a traditionally "nomadic" people, the Romani/Roma are a classical "stateless nation" without aspiration to sovereign territory. As not all states are nation states, there are a number of ethnic groups who live in a multinational state without being considered "stateless nations".

Nation-states and nations without states

The symbiotic relation between nations and states arose in early modern Western Europe (18th century) and it was exported to the rest of the world through colonial rule. Whereas the Western Eropean nation-states are at present relinquishing some of their powers to the European Union, many of the former colonies are now the zealous defenders of the concept of nation-state.[3]

Only a small fraction of the world's national groups have associated nation-states. The proportion was estimated to be 3 percent by Minahan. The rest are distributed in one or more states. Of the 192 member states of the United Nations in 2006, fewer than 20 are nation-states. Thus nation-states are not as common as often assumed, and stateless nations are the overwhelming majority of nations in the world.[3]

Consequences of colonialism and imperialism

During the imperial and colonial era, powerful nations extended their influence outside their homeland and this resulted in many colonized nations ceasing to be self-governing and have since been described as stateless nations.[9] Some nations have been victims of "carve out" and their homeland was divided among several nations. Even today the colonial boundaries form modern national boundaries. These often differ from cultural boundaries. This results in situation where people of the same language or culture were are divided by national borders, for example New Guinea splits as West Papua (former Dutch colony) and Papua New Guinea (former British colony).[10] During decolonization, the colonial powers imposed a unified state structure irrespective of the ethnic differences and granted independence to their colonies as a multinational state. This led states with many minority ethnic groups in the successor states.[11][12][13] Some of these minority groups have campaigned for self-determination. Because of the ethnic differences in some countries, problems such as discrimination, ethnic conflict, separatism, ethnic cleansing, genocide, forced assimilation, and partition have occurred.[14][15]

Nationalism and stateless nations

Most peoples have their own history, language, culture, religion and customs, but the emergence of their own national consciousness makes them into nations.[16] A nation can exist without a state, as is exemplified by the stateless nations. In a multinational state different national consciousnesses can coexist or compete: for example, in Britain both English nationalism and Scottish nationalism exist and are held together by British nationalism.[17] Nationalism is often connected to separatism, because a nation achieves completeness through its independence.[18] Throughout history, numerous nations declared their independence, but not all succeeded in establishing a state. Even today, there are active autonomy and independence movements around the world. The claim of the stateless nations to self-determination is often denied due Geopolitical interests.[19][20][21]

Not all peoples claim themselves to be nations or aspire for a state. Some identify themselves more as part of the multinational state and believe that their interests are well represented by it. This is also associated with Pan-nationalism. (Spanish nationalism, Indian nationalism or Chinese nationalism).[22]

Claims of stateless nations

The following is a list of stateless nations that meet these criteria:

  • has no sovereign state of its own
  • does not form a majority in any sovereign state
  • one or more autonomist or secessionist movements are known to exist
  • not recognized by any UN members as a state (see also: partially recognized state)
People Flag Language (ca.) Predominant religion Population Continent States Homeland Irredentist movement Notes
Tamil people
Bicolor flag of Tamil Eelam.svg
Tamil language Hinduism 77,000,000 Asia Sri Lanka, India Tamilakam and Tamil Eelam Sri Lankan Tamil nationalism, Tamil nationalism, LTTE, Sri Lankan Civil War, TNLA [23] regional autonomy in Tamil Nadu (India). Demand autonomy in North Eastern Province or total secession from Sri Lanka.
Flag of Sindhudesh.svg
Sindhi Islam 27,000,000 Asia Pakistan Sindhudesh JSQM, JSMM, Sindhudesh Liberation Army
Flag of Kurdistan.svg
Kurdish languages Islam 30,000,000 Asia Iraq, Turkey, Iran, Syria Kurdistan Kurdish–Turkish conflict, Kurdish-Iranian conflict, Iraqi-Kurdish conflict, and Kurdish–Syrian conflict regional autonomy in Iraqi Kurdistan
Yoruba people
Flag of the Yoruba people.svg
Yoruba language Christianity 35,000,000 Africa Nigeria, Benin, Togo Yorubaland Oodua Peoples Congress
Igbo people
Flag of Biafra.svg
Igbo language Christianity 30,000,000 Africa Nigeria Biafra Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, Indigenous People of Biafra
Punjabi language Sikhism 27,000,000 Asia India, Pakistan Khalistan Khalistan movement Majority in Indian State of Punjab
Occitan people
Flag of Occitania (with star).svg
Occitan, French Christianity 16,000,000 Europe France, Italy, Spain Occitania Occitan nationalism (Occitan Party, Partit de la Nacion Occitana, Libertat)
Baloch people
BRA flag.jpg
Balochi Islam 10,000,000 Asia Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan Balochistan Balochistan conflict
Kabyle people
Kabyle language, Algerian Arabic Islam 10,000,000[24] Africa Algeria Kabylie Movement for the Autonomy of Kabylie, Provisional Government of Kabylia
Andalusian people
Flag of Andalucía.svg
Andalusian Spanish Christianity 9,500,000 Europe Spain Andalucia Andalusian nationalism See also Nationalisms and regionalisms of Spain
Uyghur people
Kokbayraq flag.svg
Uyghur language Islam 9,000,000 Asia China Chinese Turkestan Irredentism is politically fragmented (East Turkestan Liberation Organization, East Turkestan independence movement) limited autonomy in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region
Catalan people
Flag of Catalonia.svg
Catalan, Spanish, French, Aranese Christianity 8,000,000 Europe Spain, France Catalonia Catalan independence movement, Catalan nationalism See also Nationalisms and regionalisms of Spain
Flag of Adygea.svg
Circassian language Islam 8,000,000 Asia Russia Circassia Russo-Circassian War, Circassian nationalism regional autonomy in Circassia
Hong Kong people
Hong Kong Autonomy Movement Flag.svg
Hong Kong Cantonese Chinese folk religion 7,184,000 Asia China Hong Kong Hong Kong Autonomy Movement, Hong Kong independence movement Special Administrative Region
Flag of Tatarstan.svg
Tatar language Islam 7,000,000 Asia Russia Tatarstan All-Tatar Public Center regional autonomy in Tatarstan
Flag of Quebec.svg
French language Christianity 6,200,000 America Canada Quebec Quebec sovereignty movement The total population of the Province of Quebec is 7.9 million, of which 6.2 million are French speakers
Riffian people
Flag of the Republic of the Rif.gif
Riffian language Islam 6,000,000 Africa Morocco, Spain Rif Rif War, Rif Republic Controlled by Morocco (95%). Spanish territories of Ceuta and Melilla as autonomous cities.
Shan people
Flag of the Shan State.svg
Shan language Buddhism 6,000,000 Asia Burma Shan State Declaration of independence in 2005; see also Hso Khan Pha
Tibetan people
Flag of Tibet.svg
Tibetan language Buddhism 6,000,000 Asia China Tibet Tibetan independence movement limited autonomy in the Tibet Autonomous Region
Kashmiri people
Kashmir independent.svg
Kashmiri language Islam 5,600,000 Asia India, Pakistan, China Kashmir Insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir Administered by India (Kashmir Valley, Jammu, Ladakh), by Pakistan (Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan), by China (Aksai Chin).
Scottish people
Flag of Scotland.svg
English, Scots, Scottish Gaelic Christianity 5,200,000 Europe United Kingdom Scotland Scottish independence regional autonomy in Scotland
Flag of Wallonia.svg
French, Wallon, Picard, German Christianity 5,200,000 Europe Belgium Wallonia Partition of Belgium, Walloon Movement regional autonomy in Wallonia; seeks independence from Belgium or reunion with France.
Lozi people
Flag of Barotseland.svg
Lozi Christianity 5,153,000 Africa Zambia Barotseland Barotse Patriotic Front[25]
Valencian people
Senyera del nacionalisme valencià.svg
Valencian, Spanish Christianity 5,000,000 Europe Spain Valencian Country Valencian nationalism, Valencianism See also Nationalisms and regionalisms of Spain
Kuki people
Flag of Chin State.svg
Kukish languages Christianity 5,000,000 Asia Burma, India Mizoram and Chin State Mizo National Front, Chin National Front Kuki people are known as Chin in Chin state and Mizo in Mizoram.
Acehnese people
Flag of Aceh.svg
Acehnese language Islam 4,000,000 Asia Indonesia Aceh Insurgency in Aceh regional autonomy in Aceh
Hmong people
Hmong Flag.png
Hmong language Buddhism with native 4,000,000 Asia Laos, China, Vietnam, Thailand Hmong ChaoFa Federated State Insurgency in Laos
Puerto Rican people
Flag of Puerto Rico.svg
Spanish, English Christianity 9,000,000 America United States Puerto Rico Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional Puertorriqueña, Boricua Popular Army, Puerto Rican Independence Party Unincorporated territory of the United States
Rohingya people
Rohingya nationality flag.png
Rohingya language Islam 3,600,000 Asia Burma Rakhine State Rohingya conflict in Western Burma
Assyrian people
Flag of Assyria.svg
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, Turoyo, Chaldean Neo-Aramaic Christianity 3,300,000[26] Asia Syria, Iraq, Iran, Turkey Assyria Assyrian nationalism, Assyrian independence
Breton people
Flag of Brittany (Gwenn ha du).svg
French, Breton, Gallo Christianity 3,120,288 Europe France Brittany Breton nationalism
Iraqi Turkmen people
Flag of Iraq Turkmen FrontVEC.svg
Turkish language, Azerbaijani language Islam 3,000,000 Asia Iraq Turkmeneli Iraqi Turkmen Front Not to be confused with Syrian Turkmen of Latakia or Central Asian Turkmens of Turkmenistan who share only their ethnonym.[27]
Welsh people
Flag of Wales 2.svg
English, Welsh language Christianity 3,000,000 Europe United Kingdom Wales Welsh independence regional autonomy in Wales
Galician people
Bandeira galega civil.svg
Galician language Christianity 2,800,000 Europe Spain Galiza Galician nationalism See also Nationalisms and regionalisms of Spain
Basque people
Flag of the Basque Country.svg
Basque, Spanish, French Christianity 3,124,772 Europe France, Spain Basque Country Basque nationalism
Naga people
Unofficial flag of Nagaland.svg
Tibeto-Burman dialects / Nagamese creole Christianity 2,000,000 Asia India Nagaland Naga National Council, Insurgency in Northeast India regional autonomy in Nagaland
Chechen people
Flag of Chechen Republic of Ichkeria.svg
Chechen language Islam 2,000,000 Asia Russia Chechnya and Dagestan Chechen insurgency, Chechen Republic of Ichkeria regional autonomy in Chechnya
Sardinian people[28][29][30][31]
Bandera nacionalista sarda.svg
Sardinian, Corso-Sardinian, Italian, Catalan, Ligurian Christianity 1,661,521 Europe Italy Sardinia The movement advocating independence is quite fragmented Regional autonomy in Italy
Canarian people
Spanish, Guanche language (extinct) Christianity 1,600,000 Europe Spain Canary Islands Canarian nationalism National devolution, further autonomy or total secession from Mainland Spain.
Flag of Frisia.svg
Frisian language Christianity 1,500,000 Europe Netherlands, Germany Frisia Frisian National Party, Groep fan Auwerk the creation of a new Frisian state
Flag of Moravia.svg
Moravian language Atheism 1,400,000[32] Europe Czech Republic Moravia Moravians regional autonomy in Moravia
Bodo people
Bandera Bodoland.svg
Bodo language Hinduism 1,300,000 Asia India Bodoland National Democratic Front of Bodoland
Tuareg people
MNLA flag.svg
Tuareg language Islam 1,200,000 Africa Mali, Niger Azawad Tuareg rebellion (2012)
Flag of Greenland.svg
Inuit languages Christianity with native 1,000,000 America Canada, United States, Denmark Siberia, Alaska, Northern Canada, Greenland Greenland Referendum, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami Semi-autonomous rule in Greenland, Autonomy in Canada
Flag of the Mapuches.svg
Mapudungun Christianity 1,000,000 America Argentina, Chile Araucanía Mapuche conflict
Ryukyuan people
Flag of Republic Ryukyu Independists.png
Ryukyuan, Japanese Buddhism 1,000,000 Asia Japan Ryukyu Islands Ryukyu independence movement
POL woj dolnoslaskie FLAG 2009.svg
Silesian, Polish, German, Czech Christianity 900,000 Europe Poland, Czech Republic, Germany Silesia Silesian Autonomy Movement divided into Upper Silesia and Lower Silesia
Māori people
Tino Rangatiratanga Maori sovereignty movement flag.svg
Māori, English Christianity with native 750,000 Oceania New Zealand New Zealand Māori protest movement
Cornish people
Flag of Cornwall.svg
Cornish English, Cornish Christianity 534,300 (only Cornwall) Europe United Kingdom Cornwall Cornish nationalism, Mebyon Kernow, Cornish Nationalist Party Cornwall demand a devolution or autonomy.
Australian Aborigines
Australian Aboriginal Flag.svg
Aboriginal languages Christianity with native 680,000 Oceania Australia Australia Movement is fragmented or focused on specific aboriginal groups
Hawaiian people
Kanaka Maoli flag.svg
Hawaiian language Christianity with native 527,000 Oceania United States Hawaii Hawaiian sovereignty movement
Ogoni people
Flag of the Ogoni people.svg
Ogoni language Christianity with native 500,000 Africa Nigeria Ogoniland Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People
Corsican people Flag of Corsica.svg Corsican, French, Ligurian Christianity 322,120 Europe France Corsica Corsica Libera Territorial collectivity in France
Sami people
Sami flag.svg
Sami languages, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Russian Christianity 163,400 Europe Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia Sapmi Sámi politics Have their own Parliaments in Norway, Sweden & Finland. Sami groups seeks more territorial autonomy.
Lakota people (Sioux)
Pine Ridge Flag.svg
Lakota, English Christianity with native 103,255 America United States Lakotah Sioux Wars, Lakota Freedom Movement Native American reservation politics
Faroese people
Flag of the Faroe Islands.svg
Faroese language Christianity 66,000 Europe Denmark Faroe Islands Faroese independence movement regional autonomy in Faroe Islands
Flag of Sorbs.svg
Sorbian language Christianity 60,000-70,000 (est.) Europe Germany, Czech Republic Lusatia Domowina divided into Upper Sorbs and Lower Sorbs
Afrikaner Vryheidsvlag.svg
Afrikaans Christianity 3,500,000 Africa South Africa, Namibia Volkstaat Afrikaner Nationalism, Freedom Front Demand autonomy or total secession from South Africa.

See also



  1. Dictionary Of Public Administration, U.C. Mandal, Sarup & Sons 2007, 505 p.
  2. Frank L. Kidner; Maria Bucur; Ralph Mathisen; Sally McKee; Theodore R. Weeks (2013), Making Europe: The Story of the West, Volume II: Since 1550, Cengage Learning, pp. 668–, ISBN 1-285-50027-X<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Chouinard, Stéphanie (2016), "Stateless nations", in Karl Cordell; Stefan Wolff (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Ethnic Conflict, Routledge, pp. 54–66, ISBN 9781317518921<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. David Newman, Boundaries, Territory and Postmodernity
  5. Ethnic Minority Media: An International Perspective, Stephen Harold Riggins, 217p.
  6. Language in Geographic Context, Colin H. Williams, 39p.
  7. Clark, Gregory, In fear of China, 1969, saying: "Tibet, although enjoying independence at certain periods of its history, had never been recognised by any single foreign power as an independent state. The closest it has ever come to such recognition was the British formula of 1943: suzerainty, combined with autonomy and the right to enter into diplomatic relations."
  8. "The Legal Status of Tibet". Cultural Survival.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Redie Bereketeab, Self-Determination and Secession in Africa: The Post-Colonial State
  10. Richard Devetak, Christopher W. Hughes, Routledge, 2007-12-18, The Globalization of Political Violence: Globalization's Shadow
  11. Cultural Analysis: Towards Cross-cultural Understanding (2006), Hans Gullestrup, 130p.
  12. Ethnicity and Christian leadership in west African sub-region: proceedings of the conference of the fifteenth CIWA Theology Week held at the Catholic Institute of West Africa (2004), Port Harcourt, p.272
  13. Mussolini Warlord: Failed Dreams of Empire, 1940-1943 (2013), H. James Burgwyn, Chapter V
  14. Donald L. Horowitz, Ethnic Groups in Conflict
  15. Ethnic Groups in Conflict (2009), Karl Cordell, Stefan Wolff
  16. George W. White, Nationalism and Territory: Constructing Group Identity in Southeastern Europe
  17. Unionist-Nationalism: Governing Urban Scotland, 1830-1860 by Graeme Morton, 1999
  18. James Minahan, Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations: A-C
  19. Nationalism and Globalisation (2015), Stephen Tierney
  20. The Tamil Genocide by Sri Lanka: The Global Failure to Protect Tamil Rights Under International Law, Francis Boyle, chapter self determination.
  21. Turmoil in the Middle East: Imperialism, War, and Political Instability (1999), Berch Berberoglu, 69p.
  22. Ian Adams, Political Ideology Today p.73
  23. Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations: Ethnic and National Groups Around the World A-Z (2002), James Minahan
  24. the kabyle people
  25. "Assessment for Lozi in Zambia". Minorities at Risk. Retrieved 2009-04-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. UNPO: Assyria
  27. Larry Clark. Turkmen Reference Grammar. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, 1998; p. 11. ISBN 9783447040198
  28. Map of stateless nations in Europe - Eurominority
  29. Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations, James Minahan, pg. 1661
  30. Mikael Bodlore-Penlaez (2011). Atlas of Stateless Nations in Europe : Minority People in Search of Recognition. Y Lolfa Cyf. p. 70. ISBN 1847713793.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. La Sardegna nel club delle nazioni: un capitolo nella Bibbia delle etnie del mondo - L'Unione Sarda
  32. Ethnic Groups and Population Changes in Twentieth Century Eastern Europe: History, Data and Analysis: History, Data and Analysis, Piotr Eberhardt, Jan Owsinski, 2015

External links