List of countries that have gained independence from the United Kingdom

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Below are lists of the countries and territories formerly ruled or administered by the United Kingdom or part of the British Empire (including military occupations that did not retain the pre-war central government), with their independence days. Some countries did not gain their independence on a single date, therefore the latest day of independence is shown with a break down of dates further down. A total of 65 countries have claimed their independence.

Colonies, Protectorates and Mandates[edit]

Country Pre-independence name
(different)
Date Year of independence or first stage Notes
 Afghanistan Northern Persia 19 August 1919 Anglo-Afghan Treaty of 1919
 Antigua and Barbuda Antigua, Leeward Islands; UK-West Indies Associated State (WIAS) 1 November 1981
 The Bahamas 10 July 1973 Bahamas Independence Act 1973[1]
 Bahrain 15 August 1971
 Barbados 30 November 1966 The United Kingdom's Barbados Independence Act 1966 thereby granted local political independence for Saint Andrew's Day.
 Belize British Honduras 21 September 1981 September Celebrations of Belize
 Botswana Bechuanaland 30 September 1966 Botswana Independence Act 1966[2]
 Brunei 1 January 1984
 Cyprus 16 August 1960 Cyprus Independence Day is commonly celebrated on 1 October.[3]
 Dominica Dominica, Windward Islands; UK-West Indies Associated State (WIAS) 3 November 1978
 Egypt 28 February 1922 Control over the Suez Canal Zone was maintained until 1952.
 Eswatini 6 September 1968 Initially called Swaziland, which was also its pre-independence name. Renamed itself Eswatini in 2018.
 Fiji 10 October 1970
 The Gambia Gambia 18 February 1965
 Ghana Gold Coast, Togoland (Togoland got absorbed into the Gold Coast in 1957) 6 March 1957
 Grenada Grenada, Windward Islands; UK-West Indies Associated State (WIAS) 7 February 1974 Independence Day (Grenada)
 Guyana British Guiana 26 May 1966
 India British India 15 August 1947 Independence Day (India)
 Iraq 3 October 1932 Pursuant to the British Mandate for Mesopotamia
 Israel Mandatory Palestine 14 May 1948 End of British mandate
Independence Day (Israel)
 Palestine declared independence from Israel on 15 November 1988.
 Jamaica 6 August 1962 Independence Day (6 August)
 Jordan Transjordan 25 May 1946
 Kenya 12 December 1963
 Kiribati Gilbert and Ellice Islands 12 July 1979
 Kuwait 19 June 1961
 Lesotho Basutoland 4 October 1966
 Libya 24 December 1951 Libya had been under the rule of the Ottoman Empire since the middle of the sixteenth century. Following the Italo-Turkish war of 1912, Libya became an Italian colony. With their defeat in World War II, the Italians lost control of Libya. The country came under UN administration. Control was split between France and Britain, with France administering the province Fezzan while the British administered the provinces of Cyrenaica and Tripolitania. In 1949, the UN General Assembly declared that Libya should become an independent country by 1 January 1952. On 24 December 1951, Libya declared its independence from France and Britain becoming the United Kingdom of Libya, a constitutional and hereditary monarchy under King Idris.
 Malawi Nyasaland 6 July 1964
 Malaysia 31 August 1957 As the Federation of Malaya (Federation of Malaya Independence Act 1957). North Borneo (now Sabah), Sarawak and Singapore joined with the Federation of Malaya to form  Malaysia on 16 September 1963 under the Malaysia Agreement (Malaysia Act 1963).
 Singapore gained independence from Malaysia on 9 August 1965.
 Maldives 26 July 1965
 Malta 21 September 1964 This occurred in spite of the 1956 Maltese United Kingdom integration referendum, but in accordance with 1964 Maltese constitutional referendum.
 Mauritius 12 March 1968
 Myanmar 4 January 1948 Gained independence as Burma. Renamed Myanmar in 1989, but still officially known by the United Kingdom government as Burma.
 Nauru 31 January 1968 Independence from the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand on 31 January 1968.
 Nigeria 1 October 1960 Took in Northern Cameroons
 Oman Sultanate of Muscat and Oman 20 December 1970
 Pakistan British India 14 August 1947 Partition of India
 Bangladesh gained independence from Pakistan on 26 March 1971.
 Qatar British Qatari Protectorate 3 September 1971
 Saint Lucia St Lucia, Windward Islands; UK-West Indies Associated State (WIAS) 22 February 1979
 Saint Kitts and Nevis St Kitts–Nevis and Anguilla, Leeward Islands; UK-West Indies Associated State (WIAS) 19 September 1983
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines St Vincent, Windward Islands; UK-West Indies Associated State (WIAS) 27 October 1979
 Seychelles 29 June 1976
 Sierra Leone 27 April 1961
 Solomon Islands British Solomon Islands 7 July 1978
 Somaliland British Somaliland Protectorate 26 June 1960 The British Somaliland Protectorate gained independence on 26 June 1960 then united with the Trust Territory of Somalia on 1 July 1960 to form the Somali Republic, but later broke away and unilaterally declared independence, which is internationally unrecognised.
 South Yemen Protectorate of South Arabia
Federation of South Arabia
30 November 1967 Merged with  North Yemen to form  Yemen in 1990
 Sri Lanka Ceylon 4 February 1948 Gained independence as the Dominion of Ceylon. Renamed Sri Lanka in 1972.
 Sudan 1 January 1956  South Sudan gained independence from Sudan on 9 July 2011.
 Tanganyika 9 December 1961 Tanganyika became independent on 9 December 1961. It joined with Zanzibar on 25 April 1964 to form  Tanzania.
 Tonga 4 June 1970
 Trinidad and Tobago 31 August 1962 Independence Day (August 31st)
 Tuvalu Gilbert and Ellice Islands 1 October 1978
 Uganda 9 October 1962
 United Arab Emirates Trucial States 2 December 1971 National Day (United Arab Emirates)
 United States Thirteen American Colonies 4 July 1776 Fourth of July. Declaration of Independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1776. Last major battle of the American Revolutionary War fought in 1781. British government recognized independence in 1783.

 Liberia gained independence from the United States on 26 July 1847.
 Cuba gained independence from the United States on 20 May 1902.[4]
 The Philippines gained independence from the United States on 4 July 1946.


The United States has responsibilities for three freely associated states:
 The Marshall Islands (from 21 October 1986)
 Micronesia (from 3 November 1986)
 Palau (from 1 October 1994)

The United States maintained an Occupation zone in Germany which became part of  West Germany on 23 May 1949 (see #Territories which were relinquished to another sovereign state).

The United States maintained a Military Government in Korea which became the sovereign state of  South Korea on 15 August 1948.

The United States led the Coalition Provisional Authority as part of the Occupation of Iraq between 2003 and 2004.

 Vanuatu New Hebrides 30 July 1980 Independence from United Kingdom and France in 1980
 Zambia Northern Rhodesia 24 October 1964
 Zanzibar 10 December 1963 Zanzibar became independent on 10 December 1963. It joined with Tanganyika on 25 April 1964 to form  Tanzania.
 Zimbabwe Southern Rhodesia 18 April 1980 Southern Rhodesia declared independence from United Kingdom on 11 November 1965 as  Rhodesia, which was not internationally recognized. Rhodesia transitioned to majority rule as  Zimbabwe-Rhodesia on 1 June 1979 with a view to eventual international recognition, but instead returned to British control under the Lancaster House Agreement followed by internationally recognised independence in 1980 as  Zimbabwe.

Evolution of Dominions to independence[edit]

Country Date of Dominion status Date of adoption of the Statute of Westminster Date of final relinquishment of British powers Final event in question. Notes
 Australia 1 January 1901 9 October 1942 (effective from 1939) 3 March 1986 Australia Act 1986  Papua New Guinea gained independence from Australia on 16 September 1975.
 Canada 1 July 1867 11 December 1931 17 April 1982 Canada Act 1982  Quebec voted against independence from Canada in two referendums in 1980 and 1995.
 Ireland 6 December 1922 11 December 1931 18 April 1949 Republic of Ireland Act and Ireland Act 1949 The 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic and 1919 Irish Declaration of Independence were never recognised by the UK but given symbolic priority by post-1922 Irish leaders. From the 1932 Irish election, successive governments unilaterally amended the state's status: the Constitution (Removal of Oath) Act on 3 May 1933 implicitly abrogated the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty; the 27th amendment and External Relations Act, both on 12 December 1936, attenuated the role of the monarchy; the enactment of the Constitution on 29 December 1937 established the office of President and definitively abolished all British powers over Ireland except diplomatic functions; the Republic of Ireland Act, which transferred diplomatic functions to the President of Ireland, came into force on 18 April 1949 with Ireland formally leaving the British Commonwealth. Related UK statutes included the Éire (Confirmation of Agreements) Act 1938 and the Ireland Act 1949.
 Dominion of Newfoundland 26 September 1907 17 April 1982 Canada Act 1982 Newfoundland voted to join Canada in 1948 in a 52–48 vote; this became effective on 31 March 1949.
 South Africa 31 May 1910 11 December 1931 21 May 1961 South African Constitution of 1961  Namibia gained independence from South Africa on 21 March 1990.
 New Zealand 26 September 1907 25 November 1947 13 December 1986 Constitution Act 1986 Declaration of Independence of New Zealand 1835, Treaty of Waitangi 1840


 Samoa gained independence from New Zealand on 1 January 1962.
New Zealand has responsibilities for two freely associated states:
 Cook Islands (from 4 August 1965)
 Niue (from 19 October 1974)

Military occupations that did not retain the pre-war central government[edit]

Country Pre-independence name
(different)
Date Year of independence or first stage Notes
 Iraq Coalition Provisional Authority 28 June 2004 Jointly with the United States and Poland, as part of the Multi-National Force – Iraq which operated under United States leadership

Former British Crown Colonies that declared independence then later restored British rule[edit]

Country Date Year Notes
 Anguilla 12 July 1967

Anguilla declared independence from St Kitts and Nevis in 1967, following the Anguillan Revolution; in favour of returning to British authority in 1971 with full British Crown Colony status (renamed in 2002 as British Overseas Territory status) returning in 1980.

 Rhodesia 11 November 1965 Southern Rhodesia declared independence from United Kingdom on 11 November 1965 as  Rhodesia, which was not internationally recognized. Rhodesia transitioned to majority rule as  Zimbabwe-Rhodesia on 1 June 1979 with a view to eventual international recognition, but instead returned to British control under the Lancaster House Agreement followed by internationally recognised independence in 1980 as  Zimbabwe.

British Overseas Territories independence/sovereignty referendums[edit]

Territory Date Year Notes
 Bermuda 16 August 1995 Bermudians voted against independence for the territory in a 1995 referendum by 73.6% to 25.7%.
 Gibraltar 7 November 2002 Gibraltar held a referendum on whether or not to share sovereignty with Spain. 98.48% of voters rejected the proposal in favour of remaining solely a British overseas territory with only 1.02% supporting the proposal.
 Falkland Islands 11 March 2013 Falkland Islanders voted in favour of remaining a British overseas territory by 99.8% to 0.2%.

Territories which were relinquished to another sovereign state[edit]

Territory Recipient state Date Year Notes
Northern Cameroons  Nigeria 1 October 1961 British Mandate territory in West Africa. In the 1961 British Cameroons referendum, the Northern Cameroons voted to join Nigeria (which itself gained independence from the United Kingdom), while the Southern Cameroons voted to join the Republic of Cameroun (which itself gained independence from France).
Southern Cameroons  Cameroon 1 October 1961 British Mandate territory in West Africa. In the 1961 British Cameroons referendum, the Northern Cameroons voted to join Nigeria (which itself gained independence from the United Kingdom), while the Southern Cameroons voted to join the Republic of Cameroun (which itself gained independence from France).
 British Occupation zone in Germany  West Germany 23 May 1949 Nazi Germany occupied by Britain, France, the United States and the Soviet Union in 1945. Unlike in Austria, no German central government was retained in any of the occupation zones. The British and American occupation zones were merged in 1947 to form the Bizone, and the French zone was added into it in 1948. The resulting Trizone became host to a new German central government on 23 May 1949, with which the former Soviet zone - which had established a central government of its own called the German Democratic Republic - reunified on 3 October 1990.
 Hong Kong  People's Republic of China 30 June 1997 In 1984 the British government signed the Sino-British Joint Declaration with China and agreed to turn over Hong Kong and its dependencies in 1997. It was never put forward to the people of the territory to decide in the form of a referendum, and neither was it ever agreed by an elected legislature. British rule ended on 30 June 1997, with China taking over at midnight, 1 July 1997 (at end of 99-year lease).
 North Borneo  Malaya (renamed itself  Malaysia on the same day) 16 September 1963 British protectorate established in 1881. Proclaimed a Crown Colony in 1946, and became a part of Malaysia on 16 September 1963 as the state of Sabah.
 Sarawak  Malaya (renamed itself  Malaysia on the same day) 16 September 1963 Independent Raj of Sarawak 1841-1946. Annexed by Britain as a Crown Colony in 1946, and became a part of Malaysia on 16 September 1963.
 Singapore  Malaya (renamed itself  Malaysia on the same day) 16 September 1963 Became self-governing on 3 June 1959, and became a part of Malaysia on 16 September 1963. Subsequently gained independence from Malaysia on the 9 August 1965.[5]

Countries of the United Kingdom that have voted against independence[edit]

Country Date Year Notes
 Northern Ireland 8 March 1973 In a 1973 Northern Ireland referendum, voters in Northern Ireland were asked to decide if they wanted to remain in the United Kingdom or to leave and join with the Republic of Ireland. They voted in favour of the United Kingdom by 98.9% to 1.1%, although Irish Nationalists boycotted the vote.[6]
 Scotland 18 September 2014 In the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, 55.3% of voters who qualified as residents of Scotland, chose 'No' to the question: 'Should Scotland be an independent country?' 44.7% of voters chose 'Yes'.[7] In March 2017, preliminary negotiations to begin to prepare an agreement to run a second referendum were proposed by the Scottish Parliament but were rejected out of hand by the Prime Minister. The proposal of preliminary negotiations was triggered by the Brexit vote, which saw a majority of voters in England and Wales vote to leave the EU while a majority in Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1973/27/enacted
  2. ^ https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1966/23/body
  3. ^ "United Nations Member States". Un.org. Retrieved 4 November 2008.
  4. ^ Louis A. Pérez (1998). Cuba Between Empires: 1878–1902. University of Pittsburgh Pre. p. xv. ISBN 978-0-8229-7197-9. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
  5. ^ "Singapore profile - Timeline". 10 May 2018 – via www.bbc.com.
  6. ^ Torrance, David (21 November 2019). "'Taking the border out of politics' – the Northern Ireland referendum of March 1973". The Constitution Unit Blog. Retrieved 16 November 2021.
  7. ^ Arnett, George (22 September 2014). "Scottish independence referendum: the result in three maps". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 November 2021.
  8. ^ Swann, Sean (28 October 2016). "Scottish independence and the polls: why Brexit is not a game changer". London School of Economics. Retrieved 16 November 2021.