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. Nations without state are classified as fourth world nations.[1]

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.[2][3] Some ethnic groups were once a stateless nation that later became a nation state (for example, the nations of the Balkan such as the Croats, Serbs, Bosnians, Slovenes, Montenegrins, Kosovars and Macedonians were once part of a multinational state of Yugoslavia. Since the breakup of Yugoslavia many nation states were formed). 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.

Consequences of colonialism and imperialism[edit]

During the imperial and colonial era, powerful nations extended their influence outside their homeland and this resulted that many occupied nations lost their self-determination and suffer since then as a stateless nation.[4] In some cases the indigenous ethnic groups were victims of atrocities or were forcibly expelled from their homeland, for example Chagossians.[5] Some nations have been victims of "carve out" and their homeland was divided among several nations. Even today the colonial boundaries are visible that were detected during the colonial era and differ from cultural boundaries. This caused that people of same language or culture were separated by national borders for example New Guinea splits as West Papua (former Dutch colony) and Papua New Guinea (former British colony).[6] The colonial powers imposed a unified state structure irrespective of the ethnic differences and released their colony later as a multinational state. This led that many ethnic groups have become a minority in the new states. Because of the ethnic differences came in some countries later to discrimination, ethnic conflict, separatism, ethnic cleansing, genocide and partition.[7]

Claims of stateless nations[edit]

This list of stateless nation was created based on the following criteria.

  • Has no own Sovereign State.
  • Does not form a majority in any Sovereign State.
  • Autonomist or secessionist movements is known to exist.
  • Not recognized by any UN members.
People Flag Language (ca.) Predominant religion Population Continent States Homeland Irredentist movement Notes
Tamil people
Flag of Tamil Eelam.svg
Tamil language Hinduism 77,000,000 Asia Sri Lanka, Republic of India Tamilakam and Tamil Eelam Sri Lankan Tamil nationalism, Tamil nationalism, LTTE, Sri Lankan Civil War, TNLA [8] regional autonomy in Tamil Nadu
Flag of Sindhudesh.svg
Sindhi Islam 60,000,000 Asia Pakistan, India Sindhudesh JSQM, JSMM, Sindhudesh Liberation Army
African Americans
RNA Flag 08I09.svg
African American English Christianity 42,000,000 North America United States Black Belt (U.S. region) UNIA-ACL, African Blood Brotherhood, Communist Party USA c. 1928-1930,[9][10][11] Nation of Islam, Organization of Afro-American Unity, Republic of New Afrika, Black Liberation Army, Black Guerrilla Family, various New Communist Movement groups[12][13]
Flag of Kurdistan.svg
Kurdish language Islam 35,000,000 Asia Iraq, Turkey, Iran, Armenia, Syria Kurdistan Kurdish–Turkish conflict, Kurdish-Iranian conflict, Iraqi-Kurdish conflict, and Kurdish–Syrian conflict regional autonomy in Iraqi Kurdistan
Yoruba people
Flag of the Yoruba people.svg
Yoruba language Christianity 35,000,000 Africa Nigeria, Benin, Togo Yorubaland Oodua Peoples Congress
Igbo people
Flag of Biafra.svg
Igbo language Christianity 30,000,000 Africa Nigeria Biafra Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra
Punjabi language Sikhism 27,000,000 Asia Republic of India, Pakistan Khalistan Khalistan movement
Palestinian people
Flag of Palestine.svg
Arabic language Islam 11,000,000 Asia West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel Palestine Arab–Israeli conflict limited autonomy in the Palestinian territories, majority in Jordan
Baloch people
BRA flag.jpg
Balochi Islam 10,000,000 Asia Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan Balochistan Balochistan conflict
Andalusian people
Flag of Andalucía.svg
Andalusian Spanish Christianity 9,500,000 Europe Spain Andalucia Andalusian nationalism See also Nationalisms and regionalisms of Spain
Uyghur people
Kokbayraq flag.svg
Uyghur language Islam 9,000,000 Asia 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
Catalan people
Flag of Catalonia.svg
Catalan language Christianity 8,000,000 Europe Spain, France Catalonia Catalan separatism See also Nationalisms and regionalisms of Spain
Flag of Adygea.svg
Circassian language Islam 8,000,000 Asia Russian Federation Circassia Russo-Circassian War, Circassian nationalism regional autonomy in Circassia
Flag of Tatarstan.svg
Tatar language Islam 7,000,000 Asia Russian Federation Tatarstan All-Tatar Public Center regional autonomy in Tatarstan
Flag of Quebec.svg
French language Christianity 6,200,000 North America 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
Riffian people
Flag of the Republic of the Rif.gif
Riffian language Islam 6,000,000 Africa Morocco, Spain Rif Rif War, Rif Republic Controlled by Morocco (95%). Spanish territories of Ceuta and Melilla as autonomous cities.
Shan people
Flag of the Shan State.svg
Shan language Buddhism 6,000,000 Asia Burma Shan State Declaration of independence in 2005; see also Hso Khan Pha
Tibetan people
Flag of Tibet.svg
Tibetan language Buddhism 6,000,000 Asia People's Republic of China Tibet Tibetan independence movement limited autonomy in the Tibet Autonomous Region
Kashmiri people
Kashmir independent.svg
Kashmiri language Islam 5,600,000 Asia 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 Christianity 5,200,000 Europe United Kingdom Scotland Scottish independence regional autonomy in Scotland
Flag of Wallonia.svg
French, Wallon, Picard, German Christianity 5,200,000 Europe Belgium Wallonia Partition of Belgium, Walloon Movement regional autonomy in Wallonia, Seeks independence from Belgium or reuniting with France.
Kabyle people
Berber flag.svg
Kabyle language, Algerian Arabic Islam 5,000,000 Africa Algeria Kabylie Movement for the Autonomy of Kabylie
Acehnese people
Flag of Aceh.svg
Acehnese language Islam 4,000,000 Asia Indonesia Aceh Insurgency in Aceh regional autonomy in Aceh
Hmong people
Hmong Flag.png
Hmong language Buddhism 4,000,000 Asia Laos, People's Republic of China, Vietnam, Thailand Hmong ChaoFa Federated State Insurgency in Laos
Puerto Rican people
Flag of Puerto Rico.svg
Spanish language Christianity 3,638,484 North America United States Puerto Rico Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional Puertorriqueña, Boricua Popular Army Unincorporated territory of the United States
Rohingya people
Rohingya nationality flag.png
Rohingya language Islam 3,600,000 Asia 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 Christianity 3,500,000 Asia Syria, Iraq, Iran, Turkey Assyrian homeland Assyrian nationalism, Assyrian independence
Breton people
Flag of Brittany (Gwenn ha du).svg
French, Breton, Gallo Christianity 3,120,288 Europe France Brittany Breton nationalism
Welsh people
Flag of Wales 2.svg
English, Welsh language Christianity 3,000,000 Europe United Kingdom Wales Welsh independence regional autonomy in Wales
Galician people
Bandeira galega civil.svg
Galician language Christianity 2,800,000 Europe Spain Galiza Galician nationalism See also Nationalisms and regionalisms of Spain
Basque people
Flag of the Basque Country.svg
Basque language Christianity 2,600,000 Europe France, Spain Basque Country Basque nationalism
Naga people
Unofficial flag of Nagaland.svg
Tibeto-Burman dialects / Nagamese creole Christianity 2,000,000 Asia Republic of India Nagaland Naga National Council, Insurgency in Northeast India regional autonomy in Nagaland
Chechen people
Flag of Chechen Republic of Ichkeria.svg
Chechen language Islam 2,000,000 Asia Russian Federation Chechnya and Dagestan Chechen insurgency, Chechen Republic of Ichkeria regional autonomy in Chechnya
Canarian people
Spanish, Guanche language (extinct) Christianity 1,600,000 Europe Spain, Venezuela, Cuba Canary Islands Canarian nationalism National devolution, further autonomy or total secession from Mainland Spain.
Interfrisian Flag.svg
Frisian language Christianity 1,500,000 Europe Netherlands, Germany Frisia Frisian National Party the creation of a new Frisian state
Bodo people
Bandera Bodoland.svg
Bodo language Hinduism 1,300,000 Asia Republic of India Bodoland National Democratic Front of Bodoland
Tuareg people
MNLA flag.svg
Tuareg language Islam 1,200,000 Africa Mali, Niger Azawad Tuareg rebellion (2012)
Corsican people Flag of Corsica.svg Corsican language Christianity 1,000,000 Europe France Corsica Party of the Corsican Nation
Flag of Greenland.svg
Inuit languages Christianity with native 1,000,000 North America 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 Christianity 1,000,000 South America Argentina, Chile Araucanía Mapuche conflict
Ryukyuan people
Ryukyu independence flag.svg
Ryukyuan language Buddhism 1,000,000 Asia Japan Ryukyu Kingdom Ryukyu independence movement
Occitan people
Flag of Occitania (with star).svg
Occitan language Christianity 100,000 to 800,000 Europe France, Italy, Spain Occitania Occitan Party
Māori people
Tino Rangatiratanga Maori sovereignty movement flag.svg
Māori, English Christianity with native 750,000 Australia New Zealand New Zealand Māori protest movement
Australian Aborigines
Australian Aboriginal Flag.svg
Aboriginal languages Christianity with native 680,000 Australia Australia Australia Movement is fragmented or focused on specific aboriginal groups
Cornish people
Flag of Cornwall.svg
Cornish English, Cornish Christianity 534,300 (only Cornwall) Europe United Kingdom Cornwall Cornish nationalism, Mebyon Kernow, Cornish Nationalist Party Cornwall demand a devolution or autonomy.
Hawaiian people
Kanaka Maoli flag.svg
Hawaiian language Christianity with native 527,000 North America United States Hawaii Hawaiian sovereignty movement
Ogoni people
Flag of the Ogoni people.svg
Ogoni language Christianity with native 500,000 Africa Nigeria Ogoniland Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People
Sami people
Sami flag.svg
Sami languages, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Russian Christianity 163,400 Europe Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia Sapmi Have their own Parliaments in Norway, Sweden & Finland
Lakota people (Sioux)
Pine Ridge Flag.svg
Lakota, English Christianity with native 103,255 North America United States Lakotah Sioux Wars, Lakota Freedom Movement Native American reservation politics
Faroese people
Flag of the Faroe Islands.svg
Faroese language Christianity 66,000 Europe Denmark Faroe Islands Faroese independence movement regional autonomy in Faroe Islands

Stateless nations without claims[edit]

Not all ethnic groups claim themselves as a separate nation or aspire for a state. Some of them identify themselves more as part of the multinational state and believe that their interests are well represented by it. It is also associated with Pan-nationalism. (British nationalism, indian nationalism or Chinese nationalism).

This list of stateless nation was created based on the following criteria.

  • Has no own Sovereign State.
  • Does not form a majority in any Sovereign State.
  • Does not claim any Sovereignty.
  • Population over 1 million.
People Flag Language (ca.) Predominant religion Population Continent States Homeland Notes
Telugu people Telugu language Hinduism 80,000,000 Asia India Andhra
Gujarati people Gujarati language Hinduism 60,000,000 Asia India Gujarat
Marathi people
Flag of the Maratha Empire.svg
Marathi language Hinduism 100,000,000 Asia India Maharashtra
Malayali Malayalam Hinduism 35,757,100 Asia India Kerala
Rajasthani people Rajasthani language Hinduism 68,890,000 Asia India Rajasthan
Kannada people
Flag of Karnataka.svg
Kannada language Hinduism 38,000,000 Asia India Karnataka
Oriya people Oriya language Hinduism 31,000,000 Asia India Odisha
Zhuang people Zhuang languages Mo 18,000,000 Asia China Guangxi
Miao people Miao language Chinese shamanism 12,000,000 Asia China
Manchu people Mandarin Chinese 10,430,000 Asia China Manchuria
Hui people Mandarin Chinese Islam 10,586,087 Asia China Ningxia
Romani people
Flag of the Romani people.svg
romani language Christianity 12,000,000 Romani people are a Nomadic people and have no traditional homeland.
Lurs Luri language Islam 5,000,000 Asia Iran Lorestan
Balinese Balinese language Hinduism 4,200,000 Asia Indonesia Bali
Sundanese people Sundanese Islam 40,000,000 Asia Indonesia Sunda
Madurese people Madurese Islam 7,179,356 Asia Indonesia Madura

See also[edit]


  1. ^ David Newman, Boundaries, Territory and Postmodernity
  2. ^ 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."
  3. ^ "The Legal Status of Tibet". Cultural Survival. 
  4. ^ Redie Bereketeab, Self-Determination and Secession in Africa: The Post-Colonial State
  5. ^ "Chagossians have waited more than forty years for justice, there should be no delay now." Our response to Government Statement on Chagossian Return". chagos support UK. 
  6. ^ Richard Devetak, Christopher W. Hughes, Routledge, 18.12.2007, The Globalization of Political Violence: Globalization's Shadow
  7. ^ Donald L. Horowitz, Ethnic Groups in Conflict
  8. ^ "Tehelka - India's Independent Weekly News Magazine". Retrieved 18 October 2014. 
  9. ^ 1928 and 1930 Communist International Resolutions on the Negro Question in the United States [1928 and 1930 Communist International Resolutions on the Negro Question in the United States]
  10. ^ Haywood, Harry, The Struggle for the Leninist Position on the Negro Question in the United States, 1933
  11. ^ Gilmore, Glinda, Defying Dixie: The Radical Roots of Civil Rights, 1919-1950, 2008
  12. ^ "1981 - RWH Pamphlet - Build the Black Liberation Movement". Retrieved 18 October 2014. 
  13. ^ "Full text of "In Defense of the Right to Political Secession for the Afro-American Nation"". Retrieved 18 October 2014. 

External links[edit]