Showing posts with label new countries. Show all posts
Showing posts with label new countries. Show all posts

Monday, November 18, 2019

Bougainville Voting on Independence from Papua New Guinea

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Bougainville island and its surroundings could become the world's next independent country (public domain UN map).
This week, voting will begin in a referendum that could lead to the creation of the world's first widely-accepted new country in almost a decade. Bougainville, a group of islands in the South Pacific, will be voting on independence from Papua New Guinea.

Where did this come from? Is the referendum expected to pass? Will Bougainville really become independent? Read on for all the answers!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

New Caledonia Votes NO on Independence

This is a follow-up to Saturday's explainer on New Caledonia's referendum on independence from France. For more on New Caledonia's current status and what would have happened if the vote had passed, see that article.

The islands of New Caledonia, and their location in the South Pacific. Map by NormanEinstein (CC BY-SA; source)
The results are in for yesterday's independence referendum in New Caledonia, and a majority of voters have chosen not to leave France.

However, voter turnout was very high, at about 81%, apparently representing a surge of support for independence: According to preliminary results, the NO vote won by 56% to 44%, a much smaller margin than predicted in any of the opinion polls.

So what happens next? Well, for now New Caledonia will keep its current status as an autonomous region of France (see our pre-referendum explainer for more details on that status). But the islands could still become independent in the coming years.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

New Caledonia Voting on Independence from France

Update: Preliminary results of the referendum are in - check out our follow up article for the details!

The islands of New Caledonia, and their location in the South Pacific. Map by NormanEinstein (CC BY-SA; source)
This Sunday, the South Pacific islands of New Caledonia will vote on whether to declare independence from France. The referendum is the culmination of a 20-year process set in motion by the Nouméa Accord of 1998, the French government agreed to gradually transfer power to the islands' own institutions.

Have some questions? Great - we've got your answers! Read on for a quick summary of what exactly is going on:

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Catalonia Declares Independence from Spain: What Now?

This report is part of our Referendum 2017 coverage, spotlighting disputed independence votes for Kurdistan in Iraq and Catalonia in Spain, plus less-controversial self-rule referendums in three areas of Italy.

Catalonia and Spain: Map of Catalonia's location within Spain and relative to neighboring countries, including Spanish capital Madrid and Catalan capital Barcelona.
Map by Evan Centanni, based on this map by Mutxamel. License: CC BY-SA
By Evan Centanni

Declaration of Catalan Independence

Catalonia, a self-governed region within Spain, has declared an independent "Catalan Republic" nearly a month after holding a controversial independence vote, despite powerful opposition from the Spanish government.

The declaration was made on Friday, October 27, after the region's parliament - elected legally under the Spanish constitution but now defying it - voted 70-10 in favor of independence. Anti-independence parties boycotted the vote, but 70 votes is enough that the motion would have passed either way, since the body has a total of 135 members.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Catalonia Referendum: Detailed Results in 5 Maps

This map report is part of our Referendum 2017 coverage, spotlighting controversial independence votes in two of the world's autonomous regions: Kurdistan voted for independence from Iraq last month, and Catalonia tried to vote on leaving Spain on Oct. 1. Now we've mapped out Catalonia's results in detail based on data from the regional government.
 
Catalan referendum 2017 map: Detailed, municipality-level map of results in Catalonia's disputed October 2017 referendum on independence from Spain, showing proportion of YES votes in favor of independence in each municipality. Boundaries of comarques (comarcas) shown. Labels cities of Barcelona, Tarragona, Lleida, and Girona. Colorblind accessible.

Controversial Independence Vote

On October 1, Spain's autonomous region of Catalonia tried to hold a referendum on independence from Spain. After Spanish courts ruled the vote illegal, Spanish national police attempted to prevent voting, and the result was that voting was disrupted in many areas and not organized properly in most others. Still, Catalan government data states that some 42% of the region's residents came out to vote anyway, and of those who did, about 90% voted in favor of secession. Though Catalonia's president had promised to declare independence within 48 hours of a YES victory, so far he's delayed doing so.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Updated! Catalonia Referendum Results Maps: How Did Each Region Vote?

Updated! This article's maps and text have been updated with final results released by the Catalan government. See below for more details. We also now have an article with detailed results maps broken down by municipality.

This map report is part of our Referendum 2017 coverage, spotlighting controversial independence votes in two of the world's autonomous regions: Kurdistan voted for independence from Iraq last week, and Catalonia voted to leave Spain this weekend. Now detailed results are available, and we're working on getting them mapped out.

2017 Catalonia independence referendum results map. This map shows support for independence by region (vegueria) in the October 1 Catalan vote on independence from Spain. Colorblind accessible. 2017 Catalonia independence referendum voter turnout map. This map shows voter turnout by region (vegueria) in the October 1 Catalan vote on independence from Spain. Colorblind accessible.
Maps by Evan Centanni, starting from blank map by Vinals and Rwxrwxrwx. License: CC BY-SA

Catalonia Independence Vote (Updated)

Detailed, final results are now available for Catalonia's controversial referendum on independence from Spain. The vote was widely disrupted by the Spanish police after courts ruled it illegal, resulting in massive irregularities that will make it hard for outsiders to accept as a proper democratic referendum. Still, some 43% of eligible Catalan voters reportedly made it out to cast ballots, meaning there's plenty of reported data to look at.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Catalonia Voting on Independence: What Will Happen?

This article is part of our Referendum 2017 coverage, spotlighting controversial independence votes in two of the world's autonomous regions: Kurdistan voted for independence from Iraq this Monday, and Catalonia is about to vote on leaving Spain. 

Update: Check out the bottom of the article for a brief summary of what's actually happened since referendum day!

Catalonia and Spain: Map of Catalonia's location within Spain and relative to neighboring countries, including Spanish capital Madrid and Catalan capital Barcelona.
Map by Evan Centanni, based on this map by Mutxamel. License: CC BY-SA
By Evan Centanni

Catalonia Independence Vote

Catalonia, a self-governed region within Spain, is about to start voting on independence in a referendum that Spanish courts have ruled illegal. So what will happen? No one really knows, but we've taken our best shot at answering six of the big questions...

Referendum 2017: What is Catalonia?

This article is part of our Referendum 2017 coverage, spotlighting controversial independence votes in two of the world's autonomous regions: Kurdistan voted for independence from Iraq this Monday, and Catalonia will vote Sunday on leaving Spain. 

The following article is adapted from one originally published in 2013.

Catalonia and Spain: Map of Catalonia's location within Spain and relative to neighboring countries, including Spanish capital Madrid and Catalan capital Barcelona.
Map by Evan Centanni, based on this map by Mutxamel. License: CC BY-SA
By Omar Alkhalili, with additional reporting by Evan Centanni

Not Independent Yet: So What is Catalonia Now?

Catalonia is one of the "autonomous communities" of Spain (kind of like a state in the US), and also holds the official status of a "nationality" (but not "nation") within the Spanish system of government. Regions of Spain with this status are considered to be something similar to countries within the larger Spanish nation, allowing for their own separateness from Spanish mainstream culture without actually being independent.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Kurdistan Votes to Leave Iraq: What Happens Next?

This article is part of our Referendum 2017 coverage, spotlighting controversial independence votes in two of the world's autonomous regions: Kurdistan voted yesterday on independence from Iraq, and Catalonia will vote this Sunday on leaving Spain. 


Map of Iraq and Kurdistan's place within it, published in advance of the 2017 Iraqi Kurdistan independence referendum. Includes disputed territories and territorial control as of July 30, 2017. Colorblind accessible.
Residents of Iraqi Kurdistan voted Monday in a controversial referendum on whether to declare independence from Iraq, with preliminary results showing almost 92% in favor of separation. We're still waiting for (hopefully) detailed official results so we can map out how different districts voted. But in the meantime, let's answer some of the big questions:

Will Kurdistan become independent now?

The Kurdistan region's government considers this vote official and "binding", in contrast to an informal 2005 referendum, even though the Iraqi federal government in Baghdad considers it completely illegal. But it was never intended to trigger an automatic declaration of independence.

Instead, Kurdistan leader Masoud Barzani has promised to use a "YES" vote as leverage to negotiate independence with Iraqi government. So far, no date has been set for Kurdistan's declaration of independence, and it could still be years away.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Referendum 2017: Iraqi Kurdistan Map

Two of the world's autonomous regions are about to vote in controversial independence referendums. Iraqi Kurdistan decides on independence from Iraq this Monday, and on October 1 Catalonia plans to vote on leaving Spain. PolGeoNow will be covering these events with a series of articles, but in the meantime we couldn't wait to share our new Iraqi Kurdistan map with you!

Map of Iraq and Kurdistan's place within it, published in advance of the 2017 Iraqi Kurdistan independence referendum. Includes disputed territories and territorial control as of July 30, 2017. Colorblind accessible.
Graphic by Evan Centanni and Djordje Djukic, incorporating base map by Koen Adams of onestopmap.com. All rights reserved.

Iraqi Kurdistan Independence Referendum

The Kurdistan Region of Iraq (Iraqi Kurdistan for short) is just part of the traditional homeland of the Kurds, the Middle East's fourth-largest ethnic group after Arabs, Persians, and Turks.

Many Kurds also live in Turkey, Syria, and Iran. But Iraqi Kurdistan is where they have the most legal rights, governing themselves in what's internationally recognized as an autonomous region within Iraq.

But all's not well in Kurdistan-Iraq relations. Iraqi Kurds suffered through horrific violence and persecution in the 1980s and 90s, and now the region's top politician has staked his reputation on separating Kurdistan from Iraq permanently.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Maps of How Scotland's Regions Really Voted

Good geographers know that maps can lie to you. Every map emphasizes some aspects of a place at the expense of others, giving it a lot of power to lead careless readers astray. Maps of Scotland's recent independence referendum are misleading us about the reality, even if not intentionally.

Premium members click here to view this article in the ad-free members area. Not a member yet? Subscribe now!
 
Map of results in Scotland's September 18, 2014 independence referendum. Voters were polled on whether or not to separate from the UK. Map shows relative proportion of yes and no votes for each of Scotland's council areas, using a gradient rather than contrasting colors for small differences.
Map by Evan Centanni, based on blank map by TUBS and NordNordWest (CC BY-SA)
By Evan Centanni

Misleading Maps
By now you've probably heard the results of Scotland's independence referendum: voters chose "no" by a solid margin of 55% to 45%. Check out our previous article to learn more about what would have happened if Scotland had voted "yes".

Maps like this one from the BBC and this one from Wikipedia have popped up since the results came out, showing how each of Scotland's council areas voted. Most of the country is in red for "no", with a few "yes" areas in green.

But if one area went 51% for "yes", and another 51% for "no", those two areas actually voted almost identically - yet contrasting red/green maps make us feel like they're polar opposites (not to mention that one-in-thirty readers has trouble seeing the difference between red and green).

How the Councils Really Voted
Whether each area's people voted just over or just under 50% in favor isn't actually that important. What matters is how far the balance was tipped in each region. This is not the U.S. presidential election, where the final vote is actually made by delegates obligated to go by the majority in each state. All the votes across Scotland were pooled together to determine the result, so which side of the 50-yard line each area came out on has no effect .

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Scottish Independence Poll: What is Scotland, and What Will Happen if it Votes to Leave the UK?

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Map of Scotland. On September 18, 2014, Scotland will vote on whether to leave the UK and become an independent country.
Map of Scotland by Eric Gaba (source). License: CC BY-SA
By Evan Centanni

Scotland's Independence Vote

On Thursday (September 18), residents of Scotland will vote in a referendum on whether to leave the United Kingdom (UK). But is Scotland a country already? What will happen if voters choose "yes" in the referendum? And what other changes would this bring to Scotland and the UK's political geography? Read on for the answers to these questions and more!

Crash Course: History of Scotland

Scotland is the name of the northern third of Great Britain, the main island of the UK, which is shared with England to the south and Wales to the southwest. It originated as the Kingdom of Alba, an independent Celtic country that was unified around the year 900.

It remained an independent kingdom throughout the Middle Ages, gradually absorbing Anglo-Saxon culture from the south until it came to be ruled by English-speaking monarchs, who called it "Scots" or "Scotland" after the Latin name for the Gaels, the predominant Celtic people of the region.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Crimea Joins Russia, Gives Up Independence, Becomes Disputed Territory

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Map of the claimed Republic of Crimea, which briefly declared independence from Ukraine on Mar. 17 before being annexed by Russia
The claimed Republic of Crimea which has now joined Russia (click to see full-sized map). By Evan Centanni, based on this blank map.
By Evan Centanni

Russia Annexes Crimea
The Crimean peninsula, which declared independence from Ukraine ten days ago as the Republic of Crimea, has now been absorbed into Russia. This was part of the plan all along - the claimed Republic of Crimea had requested to join Russia at the same time that it declared independence.

Related: Complete Map of Locations Seized by Russia in Crimea (Premium)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Crimea Declares Independence: Is It Really a Country?

On Monday, two regional governments on the Crimean Peninsula controversially declared their independence from Ukraine as the new Republic of Crimea. While the declaration has been rejected by most of the world community, and Crimea hopes to swiftly unite with Russia, for now it might be considered a de facto sovereign state. Read on for details.

Map of the newly declared independent Republic of Crimea, seceding from Ukraine to join Russia (colorblind accessible).
The Republic of Crimea. Map by Evan Centanni, based on this blank map.
Premium members click here to view this article in the ad-free members area. Not a member yet? Subscribe now!

By Evan Centanni

Declaration of Independence
Following Ukraine's revolution, the explosion of pro-Russian protests in the east, and the subsequent occupation of the Crimean peninsula by Russian forces (see our premium report, Ukraine Map: Occupations, Autonomy, & Invasion), a new independent country has been declared on the coast of the Black Sea.

Friday, October 25, 2013

No More Bangsamoro Republik: Philippine Rebel Occupation Defeated


Map of territory in the Philippines and Malaysia claimed by the Bangsamoro Republik, plus territorial control by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNFL) during last month's Zamboanga crisis.
Claims and territorial control of the MNLF rebels and Bangsamoro Republik during last month's crisis. Click to see full-sized map and article. Map by Evan Centanni.
Territory Retaken by Government
Last month, Political Geography Now mapped Moro rebel control in the Philippines' Zamboanga crisis. The rebels, drawn from a group which had declared independence from the Philippines as the Bangsamoro Republik, had occupied several neighborhoods of Zamboanga City in the country's southwest after an aborted attempt to raise their flag in the city center.

Ten days after we published that article, the government of the Philippines declared the crisis over, with all hostages freed and only scattered fighting occurring over the next two days as the surviving rebels attempted to escape the area. After nearly three weeks of chaos, the city of Zamboanga was once again fully under government control.

What of the MNLF fighters?
Though hundreds of rebels from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) were killed in the fighting, some did escape, and the attack's commander Habier Malik is still missing. Nur Misuari, the faction's leader and founder of the self-declared Bangsamoro Republik, was not present at the attack but is now wanted on charges of rebellion. But he may have more than just the government to worry about - Malik's surviving men from the Zamboanga attack are also said to be on the hunt for Misuari, who allegedly tricked them into participating. According to Mujiv Hataman, governor of the officially sanctioned Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Misuari promised Malik's men that U.N. peacekeepers would arrive soon after the attack to secure Bangsamoro independence and reward each fighter with 10,000 pesos (US $230) and a new weapon.

BIFF Attacks
Attacks by other Moro rebel groups in nearby regions continued until just after Zamboanga was secured. In particular, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a splinter group from the Moro Islamic Liberation Fighters (MILF) who are currently in peace talks with the Philippine government, continued launching attacks elsewhere in Mindanao into early October. The BIFF is not closely tied to Nur Misuari's MNLF, and these were apparently just opportunistic attacks taking advantage of the military's distraction during the crisis in Zamboanga.

More information: Bangsamoro Republik? Philippine Separatists Seize Territory (map)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bangsamoro Republik? Philippine Separatists Seize Territory (map)

Zamboanga City in the southwestern Philippines came under rebel attack last week, with insurgents seizing and occupying several neighborhoods. Because the fighters are from a rebel group that declared independence in August, their newfound territorial control might technically be considered the birth of a new breakaway state. Details and discussion below!

Map of territory in the Philippines and Malaysia claimed by the Bangsamoro Republik, plus territorial control by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNFL) as part of the Zamboanga crisis.
Claims and territorial control of the MNLF rebels/Bangsamoro Republik. Map by Evan Centanni.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Catalonia: Europe’s Newest Nation?

Even relatively stable Europe hosts its share of geopolitical tensions: Catalonia, a major region of Spain which has long claimed a unique national identity, may now be on the path towards independence. Read on for a profile of what could become one of the world's newest countries.

Map of Catalonia's location within Spain and relative to neighboring countries
Map by Evan Centanni, based on this map by Mutxamel. License: CC BY-SA
By Omar Alkhalili

What is Catalonia?

Catalonia is an autonomous community of Spain. It holds the official status of a nationality within the Spanish parliamentary monarchy. Regions of Spain with this status are considered to be something similar to countries within the larger Spanish nation, allowing for their own separateness from Spanish mainstream culture without actually being considered independent.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Is Palestine Really a Country?

(Keep up with changes to Palestine's situation: view all Palestine updates.)

Palestine is now recognized as a country by both the U.N. and a majority of its members, but many  have questioned whether this new-found status reflects the truth on the ground. Is Palestine really an independent country, or is this a political fantasy concocted by supporters in the U.N.?

The Olso Accords divided the Palestinian territories into three areas of control (see article for explanation). Map by Evan Centanni. Sources: Natural Earth, B'Tselem, U.N. OCHA oPt.
What is a "sovereign state"?
By the most common definition, a "state" has to have:
  1. A government
  2. A defined territory
  3. A permanent population
  4. The ability to conduct foreign relations with other states
This definition is called the "declarative theory of statehood", and was formalized in the Montevideo Convention of 1933. To be a "sovereign" state (i.e. an independent country), it's also important that the government answers to no other country, and that the territory and population are actually under the government's control.

A prospective country that fits these criteria is described by geographers as a de facto sovereign state, even if it's not recognized by the international community (de facto is Latin for "in actual fact").

Friday, November 30, 2012

Palestine Recognized as a Country by the U.N.

(Keep up with changes to Palestine's situation: view all Palestine updates.)

This Thursday, the U.N. General Assembly voted to change Palestine's status in the organization from "observer" to "observer state". This is the first time the international body has recognized Palestine as a state, giving it the same status enjoyed by U.N. non-member Vatican City. 

Map of Israel with the occupied territories of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Golan Heights highlighted
The State of Palestine claims the West Bank and Gaza, which are largely occupied by Israel. The Golan Heights are not part of the Palestinian Territories. Public domain map (source).
Until this Thursday, Palestine was a partially recognized country, acknowledged by some U.N. member nations, but not by the U.N. itself (See also: How many countries are there in the world?). Although its delegation has had observer status at the U.N. since 1974, it was never classified as a "state", being treated as something between a country and a non-government organization. Now, the organization has officially voted to change Palestine's status to "observer state" - effectively a recognition that it's an independent country, even though it's still not a U.N. member.

The Palestinian delegation campaigned to join the U.N. as a member last year, but had to give up after the U.S. promised to veto the application in the U.N. Security Council. Observer status, on the other hand, is determined by a majority vote in the U.N. General Assembly, which no single country can veto. That vote happened on November 29th, with members voting 138 to 9 in favor of granting Palestine observer state status (41 members abstained, and 5 were absent from the vote; see the full breakdown of national votes).

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Independent Azawad No More: Northern Mali in Islamist Hands

There are newer versions of this map available. To see them, view all Mali maps.   

Since declaring the independence of Azawad in April, control by northern Mali's MNLA rebels has been usurped by the hardline Islamists of Ansar Dine and MUJAO. The new regime, while still bitter enemies of the Malian government, does not claim independence. Presented here is a map and brief guide explaining the current situation.

Map of Islamist rebel control in northern Mali as of September 2012
Area held by Islamist rebel groups Ansar Dine and MUJWA in northern Mali. Map by Evan Centanni, modified from Wikimedia map by Orionist, using images by Carport and NordNordWest (source). License: CC BY-SA.
Separatists vs. Islamists
Last April, the Tuareg-dominated separatists of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) swept into victory in northern Mali, completing their control of the region and declaring independence as the State of Azawad. But their victory was won only with the support of Ansar Dine, an Islamist militia led by veteran Tuareg fighter Iyad Ag Ghaly. The MNLA and Ansar Dine then alternated between cooperation and conflict for months, with the Islamists grabbing ever more control of the region's cities.