15 Countries With Active Separatist Movements

Group of protestors with their fists raised up in the air. Activists protesting on the street.
© Jacob Lund/Shutterstock.com

Written by Drew Wood

Published: April 17, 2024

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On average, since 1960, the world has gotten 2 new countries every year. Some of these have been through a peaceful process of decolonization, while others are the result of brutal civil war. Even with 195 countries recognized by the United Nations today, this process shows little sign of slowing down. Even some well-established, powerful countries are in danger of splitting up. Check out these examples of countries with separatist movements in 2024.

1. Belgium

Woman with chocolate outdoors in Brussels

Something that unites Belgium is the people’s love of good chocolate.

©RossHelen/iStock via Getty Images

Flanders, the northern half of Belgium, speaks a Dutch dialect called Flemish. Wallonia, southern Belgium, is French-speaking. There are proposals to divide Belgium into two independent countries or for Flanders to unite with the Netherlands while Wallonia joins France.

2. Bosnia and Herzegovina

Panoramic view of the spring city of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. A trip to a European Balcan city in the mountains with orange roofs

Sarajevo is the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

©Ekaterina Bubnova/iStock via Getty Images

Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the countries that emerged from the Yugoslav civil war. The country’s leadership rotates between the three main ethnic groups: Serbs, Croats, and Bosniaks. The Serbian region, known as Republika Srpska, seeks independence or unification with neighboring Serbia.

3. Canada

Wooden signpost with two arrows - American and Canadian national flags on the highway road with nature landscape in the background. Canada and America moving direction sign

Proponents of independence for some of the Canadian provinces have also considered the idea of joining the United States.

©Protasov AN/Shutterstock.com

There have been many different proposals for partitioning Canada, the world’s second-largest country, into separate nations. The most serious efforts have taken place in Quebec, but there have also been small movements to separate British Columbia, Western Canada, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Vancouver Island.

4. China

Potala Palace, China

Tibet has a strongly Buddhist-oriented culture that is quite distinct from Chinese culture.


China is a vast, multiethnic state ruled mainly by the Han ethnic group. The more distant parts of the country long for more autonomy or outright independence. Xinjiang, Tibet, and Inner Mongolia are the largest areas with the most serious secessionist sentiments. Inner Mongolia would like independence or unification with independent Mongolia next door.

5. Cyprus

Cyprus, Europe

Cyprus is a gorgeous Mediterranean island with much to attract visitors.


The island of Cyprus is split between the Turkish population in the north and Greeks in the south, separated by a UN-administered buffer zone. Many people in Northern Cyprus would like to unify with Turkey or be recognized as an independent country.

6. Denmark

Panoramic view of colorful Kulusuk village in East Greenland - Kulusuk, Greenland - Melting of a iceberg and pouring water into the sea

Fishing is Greenland’s main income source, but melting ice caps may reveal more natural resources.


Denmark controls the Faroe Islands and Greenland in the North Atlantic. Both have independence movements. Greenland has a substantial degree of self-government, and over 65% of the population favors complete independence.

7. Georgia

Aerial view of Ananuri Fortress Complex in Georgia.

Georgia has beautiful mountain scenery and historic fortresses dating back centuries.

©Guitar photographer/Shutterstock.com

Abkhazia and South Ossetia are two regions of Georgia seeking independence or unification with Russia. In 2008, Russia invaded Georgia to occupy these regions and stymie the country’s drift toward membership in Western institutions such as NATO and the EU.

8. India

close up head shot of young indian sick man suffering from fever while sleeping at night by placing wet cloth on forehead - concept of healthcare, covid symptoms and illness.

Ethnic tensions in India sometimes boil over into violence.


Extremely ethnically diverse and having the largest population in the world, India has a challenging task holding its regions together. These are some of the regions with independence movements: Assam, Nagaland, Kashmir, Kamtapur, Manipur, Sikkim, Punjab, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram, Kukiland, Santhal Pargana, Dimasaland, Tiwa, Zogam, and South India.

9. Mexico

Aztec people in Mexico City, Mexico

Mexico is a mixture of the cultures of indigenous Americans such as the Aztecs and Spanish settlers.

©Johnoregon / CC BY-SA 4.0 - Original / License

The regions of Chiapas and Oaxaca in the far south of Mexico are two areas that have militant movements for independence. These areas can be hotbeds of criminal activity and are not considered safe for foreigners to visit.

10. Moldova

Moldova on map

Moldova is a landlocked, multiethnic Eastern European country.


The former Soviet state of Moldova includes a thin strip of land across the Dnister River known as Transnistria. The area is loyal to Russia and seeks either independence or union with Russia. Another less-well-known part of Moldova that desires independence is Gagauzia.

11. Russia

Globe map focused on China. Globe map focused on Russia. Close up map China. Close up map Russia. Globus with Asia and Russian Federation.

After the breakup of the Soviet Union, will Russia be next?

©Artem Kontratiev/Shutterstock.com

Russia is the largest country in the world and one of the most ethnically diverse. These are some of the regions that may declare independence if Russia’s grip weakenas: Chechnya, Circassia, Ingushetia, Kaliningrad Oblast, Leningrad Oblast, Karelia, Kalmykia, Bashkortostan, Chuvashia, Idel-Ural, Mari El, Mordovia, and Tatarstan.

12. Spain

Spain flag isolated on the blue sky with clipping path. close up waving flag of Spain. flag symbols of Spain.

The highly symbolic Spanish flag honors the country’s complex history.


Spain has many separatist movements, mainly in regions along its coastlines that used to be independent kingdoms before unification. These include the Basque Country, Catalonia, Galicia, Valencia, Aragon, the Balearic Islands, Andalusia, and Asturias.

13. Ukraine

View of Kiev Pechersk Lavra and Dnepr river. Kiev, Ukraine.

Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, managed to fight off a Russian land attack but continues to suffer through aerial assaults.

©ChamilleWhite/iStock via Getty Images

Even prior to the Russian invasion, Ukraine had some low-key separatist movements in Crimea, seeking an independent state for the Crimean Tatars, and Ruthenia, seeking independence or unification with Hungary. Invading Russians claimed they were supporting the aspirations of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, though there was little indication before the intervention that either region wanted to leave Ukraine.

14. United Kingdom

London cityscape with Blackfriars traffic and railway bridges on a cloudless day

Modern, cosmopolitan London is so culturally different from much of the rest of the country, some have proposed it should rule itself independently.

©I Wei Huang/Shutterstock.com

The UK is made up of four kingdoms: England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Each of these has its own separatist movement seeking to break up the Union. In the case of Northern Ireland, one possibility is reunification with the rest of Ireland. There are also smaller secessionist movements in many other regions of the UK: Cornwall, Northern England, the Midlands (Mercia), and even the city of London itself.

15. United States

San Juan, Puerto Rico Capitol Building

Puerto Rico is the only part of the U.S. with a serious prospect of becoming an independent country, but its people have not reached a clear decision about what they want.


The United States weathered a civil war with its unity intact, but there are still those who wish for an independent country encompassing the former Confederate states. The most persistent suggestions for splitting up the country, however, mention California and Texas as the most viable candidates to be self-sustaining nations. Realistically, the only part of the United States with a real shot at independence would be Puerto Rico. It remains in limbo as an American territory without a clear consensus on whether it should become a state or a separate country.

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About the Author

Drew Wood is a writer at A-Z Animals focusing on mammals, geography, and world cultures. Drew has worked in research and writing for over 20 years and holds a Masters in Foreign Affairs (1992) and a Doctorate in Religion (2009). A resident of Nebraska, Drew enjoys Brazilian jiu-jitsu, movies, and being an emotional support human to four dogs.

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