Stateless nation

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This article is about a nation lacking a nation state. For a community lacking a government, see stateless society. For persons lacking state affiliation, see statelessness.

A stateless nation is an ethnic group, religious group, linguistic group or other cohesive group which is not the majority population in any nation state. The term implies that the group "should have" such a state, and thus expresses irredentism. This is orthogonal to statelessness in the sense of an individual's complete lack of a legal nationality: members of stateless ethnic groups may be citizens/nationals of the country in which they live, or they may be denied citizenship by that country. Stateless nations are usually not represented as a nation in international sports such as FIFA, Olympics or in international communities such as the United Nations.

Stateless nations either are dispersed across a number of states (for example, the Kurdish people are found in Iraq, Turkey, Iran, Armenia and Syria) or form the native population of a province within a larger state (such as the Uyghur people in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region within the People's Republic of China). Some stateless nations historically had a state, which was absorbed by another; for example, Tibet's declaration of independence in 1913 was not recognized, and it was invaded in 1951 by the People's Republic of China which claims that Tibet is an integral part of China, while the Tibetan government-in-exile maintains that Tibet is an independent state under unlawful occupation.[1][2] Especially Ethnic groups in Asia, Africa, Australia and America lost their self-determination by a result of colonialism and suffer since then as a stateless nation. The colonial powers imposed a unified state structure irrespective of the ethnic differences and released their colony later as a multinational state. Many ethnic groups have become a minority who have to live in a state that is mostly dominated by a majority. Because of the ethnic differences came in some countries later to discrimination, ethnic conflict, separatism, ethnic cleansing, genocide and partition.[3]

The Romani people may be a special case, being distributed among numerous countries with no clear homeland; as a traditionally "nomadic" people, the Romani/Roma are a classical "stateless nation" without aspiration to sovereign territory.

As not all states are nation states, there are a number of ethnic groups who live in a multinational state without being considered "stateless nations". As there are several thousand individual languages and fewer than 200 independent states, it follows that the vast majority of ethnic groups is "stateless" in the sense that they do not have their own nation state.

Claims of stateless nations[edit]

This is a List of the largest groups without a nation of their own for which an autonomist and secessionist movements is known to exist. Groups claiming to be representatives of these stateless nations are fighting for their rights to self-determination with peaceful and violent movements, but their sovereignty and legitimacy is not recognized by the world community.

People Flag Language (ca.) Population States Homeland Irredentist movement Notes
Tamil people
Flag of Tamil Eelam.svg
Tamil language 77,000,000 Sri Lanka, Republic of India Tamilakam and Tamil Eelam Sri Lankan Tamil nationalism, Tamil nationalism, LTTE, Sri Lankan Civil War, TNLA [4] regional autonomy in Tamil Nadu
Flag of Sindhudesh.svg
Sindhi 60,000,000 Pakistan, India Sindhudesh JSQM, JSMM, Sindhudesh Liberation Army
Flag of Kurdistan.svg
Kurdish language 35,000,000 Iraq, Turkey, Iran, Armenia, Syria Kurdistan Kurdish–Turkish conflict and Kurdish-Iranian conflict regional autonomy in Iraqi Kurdistan
Yoruba people
Flag of the Yoruba people.svg
Yoruba language 35,000,000 Nigeria, Benin, Togo Yorubaland Oodua Peoples Congress
Igbo people
Flag of Biafra.svg
Igbo language 30,000,000 Nigeria Biafra Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra
Punjabi language 27,000,000 Republic of India, Pakistan Khalistan Khalistan movement
Palestinian people
Flag of Palestine.svg
Arabic language 11,000,000 West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel Palestine Arab–Israeli conflict limited autonomy in the Palestinian territories, majority in Jordan
Baloch people
Flag of the Balochistan Liberation Army.svg
Balochi 10,000,000 Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan Balochistan Balochistan conflict
Andalusian people
Flag of Andalucía.svg
Andalusian Spanish 9,500,000 Spain Andalucia Andalusian nationalism See also Nationalisms and regionalisms of Spain
Uyghur people
Kokbayraq flag.svg
Uyghur language 9,000,000 People's Republic of China Chinese Turkestan irredentism is politically fragmented (East Turkestan Liberation Organization, East Turkestan independence movement) limited autonomy in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region
Ahwazi people
Flag of Arabistan.svg
Arabic language
Persian language
8,000,000 Iran Al-Ahwaz Arab separatism in Khuzestan
Catalan people
Flag of Catalonia.svg
Catalan language 8,000,000 Spain, France, Italy Catalonia Catalan separatism See also Nationalisms and regionalisms of Spain
Flag of Tatarstan.svg
Tatar language 7,000,000 Russian Federation Tatarstan All-Tatar Public Center regional autonomy in Tatarstan
Flag of Quebec.svg
French language 6,200,000 Canada Quebec Quebec sovereignty movement The total population of the Province of Quebec is 7.9 million, of which 6.2 million are French speakers
Shan people
Flag of the Shan State.svg
Shan language 6,000,000 Burma Shan State Declaration of independence in 2005; see also Hso Khan Pha
Tibetan people
Flag of Tibet.svg
Tibetan language 6,000,000 People's Republic of China Tibet Tibetan independence movement limited autonomy in the Tibet Autonomous Region
Kashmiri people
Kashmir independent.svg
Kashmiri language 5,600,000 Republic of India, Pakistan, People's Republic of China Kashmir Insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir Administered by India (Kashmir Valley, Jammu, Ladakh), by Pakistan (Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan), by China (Aksai Chin).
Scottish people
Flag of Scotland.svg
English, Scots, Scottish Gaelic 5,200,000 United Kingdom Scotland Scottish independence regional autonomy in Scotland
Kabyle people
Berber flag.svg
Kabyle language, Algerian Arabic 5,000,000 Algeria Kabylie Movement for the Autonomy of Kabylie
Acehnese people
Flag of Aceh.svg
Acehnese language 4,000,000 Indonesia Aceh Insurgency in Aceh regional autonomy in Aceh
Hmong people
Hmong Flag.png
Hmong language 4,000,000 Laos, People's Republic of China, Vietnam, Thailand Hmong ChaoFa Federated State Insurgency in Laos
Rohingya people
Rohingya nationality flag.png
Rohingya language 3,600,000 Burma, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand, Malaysia Burma, Rakhine state Rohingya conflict in Western Burma
Assyrian people (aka Syriac/Aramaean people)
Flag of Assyria.svg
Neo-Aramaic language 3,500,000 Syria, Iraq, Iran, Turkey Assyrian homeland Assyrian nationalism, Assyrian independence
Breton people
Flag of Brittany (Gwenn ha du).svg
French, Breton, Gallo 3,120,288 France Brittany Breton nationalism
Welsh people
Flag of Wales 2.svg
English, Welsh language 3,000,000 United Kingdom Wales Welsh independence regional autonomy in Wales
Galician people
Bandeira galega civil.svg
Galician language 2,800,000 Spain Galiza Galician nationalism See also Nationalisms and regionalisms of Spain
Basque people
Flag of the Basque Country.svg
Basque language 2,600,000 France, Spain Basque Country Basque nationalism
Naga people
Unofficial flag of Nagaland.svg
Tibeto-Burman dialects / Nagamese creole 2,000,000 Republic of India Nagaland Naga National Council, Insurgency in Northeast India regional autonomy in Nagaland
Flag of Chechen Republic of Ichkeria.svg
Chechen language 2,000,000 Russian Federation Chechnya and Dagestan Chechen insurgency, Chechen Republic of Ichkeria regional autonomy in Chechnya
Canarian people
Flag of the Canary Islands (simple).svg
Spanish, Guanche language (extinct) 1,600,000 Spain, Venezuela, Cuba Canary Islands Canarian nationalism National devolution, further autonomy or total secession from Mainland Spain.
Bodo people
Bandera Bodoland.svg
Bodo language 1,300,000 Republic of India Bodoland National Democratic Front of Bodoland
Tuareg people
MNLA flag.svg
Tuareg language 1,200,000 Mali, Niger Azawad Tuareg rebellion (2012)
Hawaiian people
Kanaka Maoli flag.svg
Hawaiian language 1,000,000 United States Hawaii Hawaiian sovereignty movement
Flag of Greenland.svg
Inuit languages 1,000,000 Canada, United States, Denmark Siberia, Alaska, Northern Canada, Greenland Greenland Referendum, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami Semi-autonomous rule in Greenland, Autonomy in Canada
Flag of the Mapuches.svg
Mapudungun 1,000,000 Argentina, Chile Araucanía Mapuche conflict
Ryukyuan people
Ryukyu independence flag.svg
Ryukyuan language 1,000,000 Japan Ryukyu Kingdom Ryukyu independence movement
Occitan people
Flag of Occitania (with star).svg
Occitan language 100,000 to 800,000 France, Italy, Spain Occitania Occitan Party
Māori people
Tino Rangatiratanga Maori sovereignty movement flag.svg
Māori, English 750,000 New Zealand New Zealand Māori protest movement
Australian Aborigines
Australian Aboriginal Flag.svg
Aboriginal languages 680,000 Australia Australia Movement is fragmented or focused on specific aboriginal groups
Cornish people
Flag of Cornwall.svg
Cornish English, Cornish 534,300 (only Cornwall) United Kingdom Cornwall Cornish nationalism, Cornish Nationalist Party Cornwall demand a devolution or autonomy.
Sami people
Sami flag.svg
Sami languages, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Russian 163,400 Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia Sapmi Has their own Parliaments in Norway, Sweden & Finland
Lakota people (Sioux)
Pine Ridge Flag.svg
Lakota, English 103,255 United States Lakotah Sioux Wars

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Clark, Gregory, In fear of China, 1969, saying: "Tibet, although enjoying independence at certain periods of its history, had never been recognised by any single foreign power as an independent state. The closest it has ever come to such recognition was the British formula of 1943: suzerainty, combined with autonomy and the right to enter into diplomatic relations."
  2. ^ "The Legal Status of Tibet". Cultural Survival. 
  3. ^ Donald L. Horowitz, Ethnic Groups in Conflict
  4. ^

External links[edit]