Separatism within and/or across national boundaries

  • Created by: Joshua
  • Created on: 03-06-17 00:21

The nature of separatism

Separatism- Attempts by regional groups to gain more political control/autonomy over the area in which they live, in some cases wanting total independence.

Some regions/groups may have different languages, cultures or religions from the remainder of the state. Or, they may feel geographically ostracised/remote from the remainder of the country where they live and feel that they do not receive adequate support from the central government or disagree with the laws established by the central government.

Reasons for separatism

Economic independence

  • Some areas believe that they will benefit economically if they are recognised as a separate region and are self-autonomous.

    • Example: South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011, after being in conflict since 1955. Governance over the Heglig Oil Fields was a main cause of the conflict, with S.Sudan holding 75% of reserves & getting 50% of income.

Cultural differences

  • Some regions have different cultural beliefs or possess an alternate ideology/history to that of the main population and so seek a separate country so that they can propagate their beliefs free of persecution.

    • Example: Basque region in Northern Spain/southwest France wanted their own land due to cultural beliefs/ideologies, including their status as the ‘original Europeans’ because they think their language ‘Euskara’ is older than Spanish.

Geographical location

  • Some nations are located extremely far away from the region which politically governs them, and so want independence to meet their own local needs which are not addressed.

    • Example: On 18th Sept 2014, Scotland held a referendum for political independence in which 55% voted to remain part of the UK.

Consequences of separatism


  • Separate cultural identities

    • In France, the Bretons located in the region of Brittany in north-west France now have their own culture, festivals and language ‘Breton’ which has over 200,000 speakers.

  • Increased political independence

    • In 1998, the UK political government gave increased political powers to the Scottish Parliament and Welsh National Assembly enabling to further self-govern their own nations.


  • Terrorism

    • After being bombed by Spanish general Francisco Franco in 1937, Basquan students formed ‘ETA’ in the 1950s andcompleted acts of terrorism, such as murder, kidnapping and bombed the ‘Barajas’ airport in Madrid.

  • Civil War

    • Conflict between Kurdish rebel fighters and the militant regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, resulting in over 6.3 mil Syrians being internally displaced and almost 500,000 casualties.

Case Studies

Basque, Spain, 1935 - HIC


  • The ‘Basques’ are an ethnic group which inhabit seven provinces across northern Spain (Guipuzcoa, Vizcaya, Alava, Navarre) and southwest France (Labourd, Lower Navarre, Soule).

  • Basques claim dominion over 3 of the Spanish provinces, Alava, Guipuzcoa and Vizcaya, as they believe they were their original native settlers ‘Original Europeans’ because they possess a different identity to Spaniards (incl. culture, history, ancestry) and that their language, ‘Euskara’, was around before Spanish.

  • They also wanted the right to retain their own taxes.

Involved parties

  • ETA - A pro-independence Basque party ran by students, founded


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