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Colonial Powers and Colonial Territories 1945

Under decolonization detachment processes which, in the end of colonial rule lead, as well as the attainment of national independence following social, economic and cultural developments.

The term was coined in 1932 by the political scientist Moritz Julius Bonn . The terms decolonization and decolonization as well as decolonization and decolonization are used synonymously.

In addition to the processes of detachment of the colonies from their colonial powers , the term “decolonization” also includes the social and cultural dimensions within the colonized peoples and states as well as global changes on the level of world economy and world politics. Overall, “decolonization” includes three levels that influence one another: colonial power, colony and global political development.

The Second World War was the most important catalyst of a worldwide decolonization in which India (1947), Indonesia (1949) and later the colonies in Africa gained independence. In the course of this development, 120 colonies and dependent territories became independent from the 1940s to 2002 . The states of Central Asia gained their independence with the collapse of the Soviet Union (1991).


Moritz Julius Bonn introduced the term in 1932 in his work Economics and politics (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1932) as follows: "All over the world a period of countercolonization began, and decolonization is rapidly proceeding."

In a broader sense Decolonization is a process that the world long before the peak of the division among the colonial powers in the period of imperialism began, especially with the War of Independence of the United States of America (1775-1783) and the independence of the Spanish colonies on the American double continent (1813-1824).




Asia in 1899

The decolonization of the 20th century is already rooted in the time of the First World War . Development started in Asia, especially India . A national movement had formed there early on , which increasingly saw itself as progressive, anti-colonial. After the First World War, Mahatma Gandhi, a charismatic leading figure, took the lead. As an organizational bracket, the Indian National Congress, founded in 1885, gained more influence in the 1920s. The fact that this Hindu national movement had neither a concept for dealing with other religions nor with the British colonial administration led to conflicts within the movement, which intensified from the end of the 1920s. After initial attempts at suppression, the British colonial administration switched to supporting factions willing to cooperate. The national movement responded by suppressing currents in its ranks that were unwilling to compromise with the British. In addition, the National Congress's intolerance towards Muslims and the personality cult around Gandhi increased.

In Southeast Asia , the movements were able to tie in with the pre-colonial statehood and use the religions as identification cores. At first only small groups of educated people pursued the national idea. From 1920 to 1930 there was a rise in all Southeast Asian countries from national movements to larger organizations, which were initially mostly aimed at cooperation with the colonial authorities. In the course of the global economic crisis from 1929 onwards, there was a radicalization that led to uprisings, revolts, party formation and finally to colonial crises. During the Second World War, the Japanese occupying forces promoted the independence movements in South and Southeast Asia with pan-Asian propaganda, which continued even after the Japanese defeat. In Burma, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and especially in Indonesia, the Japanese left their weapons to the independence fighters who opposed the restoration of British, French and Dutch colonial rule after 1945.

Central Asia was colonized by the Russian Empire from the 18th century . The General Government of Turkestan (1868) and the General Government of the Steppe (1882) were later established in this area . In the course of the Russian conquest, today's Kazakhstan in particular developed into a settlement colony of Europeans - namely Russians and Ukrainians and, to a lesser extent, Germans - whose proportion of the population temporarily exceeded that of the Kazakhs . (The proportion of the German population increased by leaps and bounds in the course of the forced resettlement of the Volga Germans in 1941. ) After the establishment of the Soviet Union , independent Soviet republics were founded in Central Asia in the 1920s and the various Turkic languages and Tajik were made the official language of the respective Soviet republic alongside Russian , which, however, continued to dominate public life. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Kazakhstan , Kyrgyzstan , Uzbekistan , Turkmenistan and Tajikistan gained their national independence.

The Russian colonization of the South Caucasus had also begun in the 18th century; however, this area was never increasingly populated by Russians. In 1918, Georgia , Armenia and Azerbaijan briefly gained their independence at the end of the Tsarist era. However, Armenia and Azerbaijan were occupied by the Red Army in 1920, Georgia in 1921 and annexed by the Soviet Union in 1922. They initially formed the Transcaucasian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic , but were transferred to independent Soviet republics in 1936. Only with the collapse of the USSR did the three countries achieve their final independence in 1991.

In contrast, the North Caucasus , which is assigned to Europe or Asia , which was also colonized by the Russian Tsarist empire from the 18th century, but was only finally brought under Russian control in the course of the Caucasus War (1817–1864) , until today as the federal district of the North Caucasus an integral part of the Russian Federation . However, the region has been rocked by unrest since 1991, which escalated into the First (1994–1996) and Second Chechen War (1999–2009). The secession of Chechnya from Russia that took place during the First Chechen War was reversed in the course of the Second Chechen War.

Also Siberia , which had been colonized as early as the 16th century by Russia, remains one of the Russian territory. Efforts are being made here towards greater federalization .


Chronology of the independence of African countries

Main article: Decolonization of Africa

In Africa the development was similar to that in Asia, but later. A politicization and formation in associations and parties did not take place until after 1945. Their leaders appeared traditionally, but were based on Western ideologies. The elites were much smaller than in Asia and more closely linked to the institutions of the colonial system. One of the earliest movements of this type was formed from 1947 in Ghana under Kwame Nkrumah . The British attempt to integrate forces willing to cooperate, as in India, led to a strengthening of Nkrumah against internal opponents. In Nigeria, there was no gathering movement, but various contending regional nationalisms, as was typical of nationalism in most African countries. In many cases, tribal associations only formed during decolonization. Exceptions were only made where charismatic figures (Ghana, Kenya) or references to European ideologies ( Tanganyika ) emerged. The year 1960, in which most African states achieved independence , is considered to be the key year of the decolonization of Africa and is known as the " African Year ".

Results and follow-up developments

In the two decades following World War II, 50 colonies were given formal independence. The foundation stone for this was laid during the war, when the colonial powers were unable to secure their control over the colonies financially, politically or militarily. In addition, there were the “rewards” promised during the war in the form of greater self-determination for the participation of local troops from the colonies.

The social carriers of decolonization were mostly local elites who occupied lower functions in the colonial administration and were frustrated by the lack of opportunities for advancement. The demarcation of the border in Africa took place without considering ethnic settlement areas. In a number of states, people of different ethnic backgrounds have been grouped together. This fragmentation of ethnic groups was the cause of ethnic conflicts, most of which continue to this day.

After the withdrawal of the colonial states, violent, often armed conflicts broke out in many former colonies within the national movements or between different ethnic groups. Where the national movement had a charismatic leader, a personality cult often developed. There was mostly no institutional separation between the state and management staff. Initial multi-party systems often turned into one-party rule that supported the sole ruler. The most important power factor was usually the military, which was based on an officer corps trained in Europe and in many cases was dominated by an ethnic group.

Often political, socio-cultural and economic ties to the former colonial power remained largely intact. To this day, the former colonial powers feel closely linked to their colonies and claim a special say for these states on the international level. At the same time, many former colonies remain as so-called developing countries dependent on the former colonial power.

Chronology of the independence of the former colonies

Independence by year
country Independence year independence of continent
Until 1800
United States 1776 United Kingdom North America
Haiti 1804 France Central America
Mexico 1810 Spain North America
Colombia 1810 Spain South America
Paraguay 1811 Spain South America
Venezuela 1811 Spain South America
Argentina 1816 Spain South America
Chile 1818 Spain South America
Ecuador 1821 Spain South America
Peru 1821 Spain South America
Costa Rica 1821 Spain Central America
Guatemala 1821 Spain Central America
Honduras 1821 Spain Central America
Nicaragua 1821 Spain Central America
Brazil 1822 Portugal South America
Bolivia 1825 Spain South America
Uruguay 1825 Brazil South America
El Salvador 1838 Central American Confederation Central America
Liberia 1847 United States Africa
Cuba 1898 (nominal) Spain Central America
Cuba 1902 (factual) United States Central America
Panama 1903 Colombia Central America
Egypt 1922 United Kingdom Africa
Philippines 1946 United States Asia
India 1947 United Kingdom Asia
Indonesia 1949 Netherlands Asia
Libya 1951 Italy Africa
Sudan 1956 United Kingdom Africa
Morocco 1956 France Africa
Tunisia 1956 France Africa
Ghana 1957 United Kingdom Africa
Guinea 1958 France Africa
Madagascar 1960 France Africa
Mauritania 1960 France Africa
Mali 1960 France Africa
Niger 1960 France Africa
Chad 1960 France Africa
Central African Republic 1960 France Africa
Democratic Republic of Congo 1960 Belgium Africa
Republic of the Congo 1960 France Africa
Gabon 1960 France Africa
Cameroon 1960 France , UK Africa
Nigeria 1960 United Kingdom Africa
Togo 1960 France Africa
Benin 1960 France Africa
Burkina Faso 1960 France Africa
Ivory Coast 1960 France Africa
Senegal 1960 France Africa
Somalia 1960 Italy , United Kingdom Africa
Kuwait 1961 United Kingdom Asia
Sierra Leone 1961 United Kingdom Africa
South Africa 1961 United Kingdom Africa
Tanganyika 1961 United Kingdom Africa
Algeria 1962 France Africa
Samoa 1962 New Zealand Oceania
Uganda 1962 United Kingdom Africa
Rwanda 1962 Belgium Africa
Burundi 1962 Belgium Africa
Trinidad and Tobago 1962 United Kingdom South America
Kenya 1963 United Kingdom Africa
Malaysia 1963 United Kingdom Asia
Zanzibar 1963 United Kingdom Africa
Zambia 1964 United Kingdom Africa
Malawi 1964 United Kingdom Africa
Gambia 1965 United Kingdom Africa
Maldives 1965 United Kingdom Asia
Singapore 1965 Malaysia Asia
Botswana 1966 United Kingdom Africa
Lesotho 1966 United Kingdom Africa
Guyana 1966 United Kingdom South America
Swaziland 1968 United Kingdom Africa
Equatorial Guinea 1968 Spain Africa
Mauritius 1968 United Kingdom Africa
Nauru 1968 Australia Oceania
Fiji 1970 United Kingdom Oceania
Bahrain 1971 United Kingdom Asia
Qatar 1971 United Kingdom Asia
United Arab Emirates 1971 United Kingdom Asia
Bahamas 1973 United Kingdom Central America
Guinea-Bissau 1974 Portugal Africa
Angola 1975 Portugal Africa
Mozambique 1975 Portugal Africa
Cape Verde 1975 Portugal Africa
Comoros 1975 France Africa
New Guinea 1976 Australia Asia
Sao Tome and Principe 1975 Portugal Africa
Suriname 1975 Netherlands South America
Seychelles 1976 United Kingdom Africa
Western Sahara 1976 Spain Africa
Djibouti 1977 France Africa
Zimbabwe 1980 United Kingdom Africa
Belize 1981 United Kingdom Central America
Canada 1982 United Kingdom North America
Australia 1986 United Kingdom Oceania
Marshall Islands 1986 United States Oceania
New Zealand 1986 United Kingdom Oceania
Namibia 1990 South Africa Africa
Micronesia 1991 United States Oceania
Palau 1994 United States Oceania
From 2000

See also



Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Wolfgang Reinhard: Brief history of colonialism (= Kröner's pocket edition. Volume 475). Kröner, Stuttgart 1996, ISBN 3-520-47501-4 , chapter "Late imperialism and great decolonization", p. 280 f. Also Dirk van Laak: About everything in the world. German imperialism in the 19th and 20th centuries . CH Beck, Munich 2005, ISBN 978-3-406-52824-8 , p. 122.
  2. Quoted from Wolfgang Reinhard: Brief history of colonialism (= Kröner's pocket edition. Volume 475). Kröner, Stuttgart 1996, ISBN 3-520-47501-4 , p. 280 f.