What Makes An Independent Nation? – Joshua Keating On ‘Invisible Countries’

Barkhad Dahir/AP Photo Women march in a procession to celebrate the 25th anniversary of proclaimed independence in the capital Hargeisa, Somaliland, a breakaway region of Somalia Wednesday, May 18, 2016. Somaliland is celebrating 25 years since the region proclaimed its independence and has experienced relative stability and economic prosperity over the years, even though Somalia has been wracked by deadly violence.

Tomorrow, the United States celebrates 242 years of independence. Though the U.S. declared independence on July 4, 1776, it took more than a year before another country, Morocco, acknowledged the American claim of independence. That formula—declared independence, followed by recognition by other countries—is how all but a few countries have joined the world’s some 200 sovereign nations. But what happens when a group of people declare independence, but nobody recognizes their claim? Slate writer, Joshua Keating, tries to answer that question in his new book, Invisible Countries: Journeys to the Edge of Nationhood. He looks at places like Kurdistan, Catalonia, and Abkhazia, where people have declared independence, but are stuck in international limbo for political, economic, or legal reasons. Very few countries have received recognized independence since the end of the Cold War.

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