Which countries never had to gain independence?

Like the title says, which modern countries never had to gain independence from another country?

'S a good question, actually - at least IMO.

I would suppose the first thing to look at is which areas of the world were colonized by other areas of the world? That takes out the Americas, Africa, Australia, and most of southern and central Asia. Generally speaking, that leaves us with China, Russia, and Europe.

As for Europe, I know the Netherlands had a war of independence from Spain in the 1500s. The Scandinavian countries were united in the Union of Kalmar for a couple of centuries early in the Middle Ages, but I suspect that my thoughts on Norway and Denmark declaring independence from Sweden are more due to ethnic bias than historical knowledge :slight_smile:
Serious amounts of France’s territory belonged to England from the Norman Conquest in 1066 until the 1400s. Half of England in turn was part of the Kingdom of Denmark before 1000 AD. And before all that, the Romans ruled most of the territory anyway.

So I guess it depends on your cutoff point in history and what you define as “gaining independence” in the first place.

Liberia was never technically a colony.

Ethiopia was continuously independent except for being occupied by Italy 1936-1941. It was liberated by British forces rather than being granted independence.

Afghanistan has not technically been a colony during the modern era, although it sometimes has been occupied. However, centuries earlier I believe it was part of the Mongol and other Central Asian Empires.

Japan was never a colony, although it was occupied after WW II.

I think we can safely say none. Concuest and re-conquest has been been a regular ebb and flood through ‘civilized’ history.

[nitpick] The Kalmar Union lasted from 1397 to 1521, with a temporary dissolution 1448-50, a partial dissolution in 1512 and the final dissolution in 1521 when Gustavus I declared the Kingdom of Sweden. That would put it at the very end of the middle ages. Further it was Sweden that declared independence from Denmark. Norway remained contested, but finally ended up Swedish in the 18th century and only became an independent nation in 1909.[/nitpick]

That almost puts Denmark in contest, but then what do we mean by Denmark, exactly? Scania used to be Danish, parts of current Denmark used to be Saxony. And then Sweden occupied Denmark and a couple of hundred years later the Third Reich did etc. etc. etc.


Wouldn’t the modern state of Israel count, technically? After all, it was manufactured by the UN. There was no conventional “fight for independence” as far as I know.

Fight for existence afterward is obviously another story.

And Russia had to gain their independance from the Golden Horde, China from the Yuan Mongols, almost all European nations from somebody at one point or another ( Sweden and Norway from Denmark, Finland from Sweden, Switzerland from the Hapsburgs, etc. ) :slight_smile: . It really does matter what cut-off date you use.

Colibri’s examples are pretty good. Ethiopia was at least partially overrun a couple of times in addition to the Italians ( Ahmed Gran in the 16th century for instance ), but it is a solid example overall.

Afghanistan was briefly occupied by the British a couple of times, but was generally at least autonomous. Of course Afghanistan’s history is short - It only dates back to 1747.

Japan, aside from the post-WWII period, when it still had some internal autonomy, is a great example.

Liberia is more equivocal, because in a sense it was ‘colonized’ by non-native Africans that established a virtual caste system ( vestiges of which linger today ).

  • Tamerlane

Okay, except for the Liberia nitpick, I’m apparently just re-writing other people’s posts :). Time for lunch I think.

  • Tamerlane

Liberia: Independent from American Colonization Society on 26 July 1847

Ethiopia… is close. One of the oldest independent nations in the world with independence since about 2000 years. Before that briefly and partially occupied by Rome and various times by Egypt Pharaoh kings and North African tribal kings.

Afghanistan: Independent from UK 19 August 1919

Japan: OK you win. :wink: Japan was founded in 660 BC by Emperor Jimmu and has more or less remained independent since then (save 1945-1947). However, then you have all the Shogun wars with multiple divisions and reunifications of Japan, but that’s more like civil war.


Ooops, I guess I sould go follow Tamerlane’s example…it’d be more like a drink though, given the time difference - but still. :o

I doubt it. I think you’re getting Nubia tangled up with Ethiopia :). I don’t think any of the powers you mentioned actually pushed that far south in any significant way.

  • Tamerlane

ROTFL Thank you Tamerlane… what can I say, fast typing and my brain elsewhere. I would have been cool if they would have though!

Sparc <- :wally

Substitute ‘I’ with ‘It’ in second sentence, please. :o

I think I better stop now and just have that previously mentioned drink…

Thailand was never colonized by the Europeans, but I don’t know how ancient the kingdom itself was. So you could count Thailand, as long as you don’t count WWII as a war of Independence.

Reference sources I checked said that Thailand traces its origins back to 1238 to the Kingdom of Sukhothai (sp?).

Note I said “technically.” Liberia was never a colony of the U.S. government, although the colonization societies did run it between 1822 and 1847. And yes, the former slaves who emigrated there did “colonize” the local native population. However, the country of Liberia was never a colony of another country. (The area may have been part of some local African Empires earlier - I’m not sure offhand).

This is misleading. The kingdom of Afghanistan was never really under British control, although it was sometimes invaded and partially occupied. A 1907 agreement between Russia and Britain guaranteed Afghan independence but gave Britain control of foreign affairs. After the Third Afghan War of 1919, the Treaty of Rawalpindi merely gave the Afghans back the control of foreign policy they had temporarily lost. Afghanistan was not a full-fledged British colony.

Likewise Iran/Persia has been more-or-less independent since the 1500s, although it was carved into Russian/Soviet and British spheres of influence at times, and sometimes partially occupied.

If you define independence as not being controlled by another country, than very few countires qualify. Let’s review in detail.

All of North and South America was subject to a European power within the last three hundred years. So was virtually all of Africa. Liberia may not have been an actual European colony; but it was definitely under de facto American control. Ethiopia was occupied by Italy for several years.

Most of the middle east was controlled by the Ottoman Empire as recently as a century ago. Iran was occupied by Russia and Britain during WWII. Central Asia and Siberia was occupied by the Russian Empire; Afghanistan by the Soviet Union. India, Pakistan, Burma, and Malaysia were British colonies; Vietnam and Indonesia were European (and Japanese during WWII). Thailand was forced into a Japanese dominated “alliance”. The Phillipines were controlled by Spain, the United States, and Japan within the space of a fifty years. Korea was occupied by Japan; Japan was occupied by the United States. Australia, New Zealand, and New Guinea were all colonies.

Between Napoleon, Hitler, and Stalin, almost every part of mainland Europe fell to conquest at some point. Norway was occupied by Sweden; Finland was occupied by the Russian Empire; Ireland (and Scotland and Wales, depending on your politics) was occupied by England.

The heartlands of Russia and China were never completely occupied by any foreign power at any one time since the Mongols declined (and Mongolia, incidentally, was a Soviet puppet state prior to their collapse.) But both countries saw most of their heartlands overrun by invaders.

So what’s left? England, Iceland, and Sweden.

England, what about the Romans?


Iceland gained independence from the Norwegian Jarls. As stated earlier England and Sweden were Danish for a long, long time. Arguably England is still Norman since 1066 with the continental heartland of the nation occupied by France since 1425.

Just read the posts in this thread :wink:

Then they weren’t really independent were they? :wink: Why for instance was Lord Robert ‘Bobs’ of Kandahar called Lord Robert ‘Bobs’ of Kandahar?

The question was not who was colonized, but who didn’t have to gain independence from another country.

Hey, I think you did well. Japan and Ethiopia was very well found. But I just can’t let you keep Liberia and Afghanistan. :slight_smile:

For the rest we still need a break point in history from the OP to properly answer the question.