Independence

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Independence is a condition of a nation, country, or state in which its residents and population, or some portion thereof, exercise self-government, and usually sovereignty, over its territory.

Attainment of independence should not be confused with revolution, which typically refers to the violent overthrow of a ruling authority. While some revolutions seek and achieve national independence, others aim only to redistribute power — with or without an element of emancipation, such as in democratizationwithin a state, which as such may remain unaltered. Furthermore, some countries were granted independence without any revolutionary acts. The Russian October Revolution, for example, was not intended to seek national independence; the United States Revolutionary War, however, was.

Autonomy (in slight contrast) refers to a kind of independence which has been granted by an overseeing authority that itself still retains ultimate authority over that territory (see Devolution). A protectorate refers to an autonomous region that depends upon a larger government for its protection as an autonomous region. The dates of established independence (or, less commonly, the commencement of revolution), are typically celebrated as a national holiday known as an independence day.

Sometimes, a state wishing to achieve independence from a dominating power will issue a declaration of independence, the earliest surviving example being Scotland's Declaration of Arbroath, and the most recent example being Abkhazia's Act of State Independence. Another example is the U.S. Declaration of Independence issued in 1776.

Causes for a country or province wishing to seek independence are many. Disillusionment rising from the establishment is a cause widely used in separatist movements, but it is usually severe economic difficulties that trigger these groups into action. The means can extend from peaceful demonstrations, like in the case of the Indian independence movement, to a violent civil war.

See also

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