A multinational state is a sovereign state that comprises two or more
nations. This is in contrast to a nation state, where a single nation
accounts for the bulk of the population. Depending on the definition
of "nation" (which touches on ethnicity, language, and political
identity), a multinational state might also be multicultural or
Present-day examples of multinational states are Afghanistan, Bosnia
and Herzegovina, Canada, China, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Iraq,
Madagascar, Montenegro, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, South Africa,
Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. Historical multinational states
that have since split into multiple sovereign states include
Austria-Hungary, British India, Czechoslovakia, the Empire of Japan,
the Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia. Some analysts have described the
European Union as a multinational state or a potential one.
Many attempts have been made to define what a multinational state is.
One complicating factor is that it is possible for members of a group
that could be considered a nation to identify with two different
nationalities simultaneously. As Ilan Peleg wrote in Democratizing the
One can be a Scot and a Brit in the United Kingdom, a Jew and an
American in the United States, an Igbo and a Nigerian in
One might find it hard to be a Slovak and a Hungarian, an Arab and an
Israeli, a Breton and a Frenchman.
A state may also be a society, and a multiethnic society has people
belonging to more than one ethnic group, in contrast to societies that
are ethnically homogeneous. By some definitions of "society" and
"homogeneous", virtually all contemporary national societies are
multiethnic. The scholar David Welsh argued in 1993 that fewer than 20
of the 180 sovereign states then in existence were ethnically and
nationally homogeneous, if a homogeneous state was defined as one in
which minorities made up less than 5 percent of the population.
Sujit Choudhry therefore argues that "[t]he age of the ethnoculturally
homogeneous state, if ever there was one, is over".
2 Modern multinational or multiethnic states
2.2.4 Sri Lanka
2.2.8 People's Republic of China
2.3.1 Russian Federation
2.3.3 Bosnia and Herzegovina
2.3.9 United Kingdom
2.4.4 South Africa
3 Former multinational states
3.2 Ottoman Empire
3.3 Soviet Union
4 See also
According to Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, the Cyrus
Cylinder written by Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian
Empire, was "the first attempt we know about running a society, a
state with different nationalities and faiths—a new kind of
Modern multinational or multiethnic states
The CIA World Factbook provides a list of the ethnic makeup of
every country in the world.
Main article: Constitutional debate in Canada
Canada should be described as "multinational" is an ongoing
topic in academia and popular discourse. The current policy of the
federal government is that
Canada is bilingual—English and French
are both official languages—and multicultural. In 2006, the House of
Canada voted in favor of Government Business No. 11, which
states that the Québécois "form a nation within a united Canada".
Since 2010, under the presidency of Evo Morales,
Bolivia has been
officially defined as a plurinational state, which recognizes the
national distinctiveness of various indigenous peoples.
Many Asian countries recognize multiple ethnic groups:
Date of recognition
53 ethnic minorities (see list)
Viet/Kinh, 86.2% (1999)
47 ethnicities, 149 groups (see list)
Lao, 68% (1995)
38 ethnicities (see list)
Thai Chinese, 14%
38 ethnicities (see list)
Vietnamese and Chinese, 5% each
People's Republic of China
56 ethnic groups (see list)
Han, 91% (2010)
Republic of China
14 ethnic groups (see list)
Chinese Taiwanese (84%)
mainland Chinese (14%)
indigenous peoples (2%).
Further information: Ethnic groups of India
India has more than 2,000 ethnic groups, and every major religion is
represented, as are four major language families (Indo-European,
Dravidian, Austroasiatic, and Sino-Tibetan) and a language isolate
Each state and union territory of
India has one or more official
languages, and the Constitution of
India recognizes in particular 22
"scheduled languages". It also recognizes 212 scheduled tribal groups,
which together constitute about 7.5% of the country's
Further information: Scheduled castes and scheduled tribes
India has a Muslim-majority state (
Jammu and Kashmir) and a
Muslim-majority union territory (Lakshadweep); three
Christian-majority states (Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Nagaland); and a
Sikh-majority state (Punjab). Most of its states are based on
ethnicity, including Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand,
Tamil Nadu (Tamil), Andhra
Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir (Dogras and Kashmiris), Goa, Konkanis, Gujarat
West Bengal (Bengali),
Maharashtra (Marathi), Punjab
Haryana (Haryanvi), and
Furthermore, several Indian states are themselves ethnically,
religiously, and linguistically diverse.
Karnataka is home to the Tulu
and Kannada people;
Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir consists of Hindu-majority
Jammu, Muslim-majority Kashmir, and Buddhist-majority Ladakh; and
Assam includes the Assamese, Bodo, and Karbi people.
Further information: Ethnic groups in Indonesia
There are over 300 ethnic groups in Indonesia
Further information: Demographics of Nepal
Nepal does not have a majority ethnic group, and its society is
multiethnic, multireligious, and multilingual. Aside from the
country's indigenous people, most Nepalese are descendants of migrants
from Kashmir, Greater Nepal, Tibet, India, and parts of
Khas and Mongoloids populate the hilly areas of Nepal, while the
Madhesis, a diverse group of Indian origin, live in the southeast. The
Tharu people were the first settlers of the
before the arrival of the Madhesis. The
Himalayas are sparsely
populated above 3,000 m (9,800 ft), but north of the mountains,
in central and western Nepal, ethnic Sherpas and Tamangs inhabit high,
semi-arid valleys. The Kathmandu Valley, in the middle hill region,
constitutes a small fraction of the nation's area but is the most
densely populated, with almost 5 percent of the nation's population.
Further information: Demographics of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is inhabited by Sinhalese, Sri Lankan Tamils, Indian Tamils,
Moors, Veddas, Burghers, and other small ethnic groups.
Further information: Ethnic groups in Afghanistan
Afghanistan has no ethnic majority, although the
estimated to account for over 45% of the population. Under the
sovereign governance of Pashtun rulers, the term "Afghan" was changed
from an ethnonym for
Pashtuns to a demonym for any citizen of
Afghanistan, regardless of ethnic affiliation. This change was
incorporated into the constitution, making it resemble that of a
multinational state. However, irredentist disputes over Pakistan's
Pashtun lands have continued.
Other ethnic groups in
Afghanistan include Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks,
Aimaqs, Turkmens, and Balochs. The government gives equal status
to Pashto and Dari as official languages.
Further information: Ethnic groups of Pakistan
Pakistan arose out of the
Pakistan Movement, which
demanded a separate state for the Muslims of the British Raj. The
movement was based on the two-nation theory put forward by Muhammad
Ali Jinnah: the idea that Hindus and Muslims in British India
represented not only different religious communities but also distinct
nations, and hence that, in the event of Indian independence, they
should be divided into two nation states. Jinnah (known in
"Quaid-e-Azm", meaning "the great leader") outlined
the theory as follows:
It is extremely difficult to appreciate why our Hindu friends fail to
understand the real nature of Islam and Hinduism. They are not
religious in the strict sense of the word, but are, in fact, different
and distinct social orders, and it is a dream that the Hindus and
Muslims can ever evolve a common nationality, and this misconception
of one Indian nation has troubles and will lead
India to destruction
if we fail to revise our notions in time. The Hindus and Muslims
belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs,
literatures. They neither intermarry nor interdine together and,
indeed, they belong to two different civilizations which are based
mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions. Their aspect on life and
of life are different. It is quite clear that Hindus and Mussalmans
derive their inspiration from different sources of history. They have
different epics, different heroes, and different episodes. Very often
the hero of one is a foe of the other and, likewise, their victories
and defeats overlap. To yoke together two such nations under a single
state, one as a numerical minority and the other as a majority, must
lead to growing discontent and final destruction of any fabric that
may be so built for the government of such a state."
This movement culminated in the creation of
Pakistan in 1947 through
the partition of India.
Urdu was then promoted as the national
language of all South Asian Muslims. However,
Punjabis are the largest language group, but at 45
percent of the population, they do not make up an absolute majority.
Furthermore, only 8 percent of Pakistanis speak the national language,
Urdu, as their mother tongue. As a result, many nationalist movements
that oppose the two-nation theory have emerged, arguing that Pakistan
is not only a linguistically diverse state but also a multinational
one, and that, therefore, each ethnolinguistic group of
Pakistan is a
distinct nation. Common grievances of these movements include the
Pakistan politically and economically,
thus marginalizing other groups, and that the establishment of
the country's sole official language is a form of cultural imperialism
that ignores the heritage of Pakistan's diverse peoples.
The most successful of these movements was Bengali nationalism, which
led to the creation of the Bengali-speaking nation-state of
Bangladesh. The movement asserted that Urdu's official status gave an
unfair advantage to Muhajirs (most of whom speak
Urdu as their mother
Punjabis (whose mother tongue, Punjabi, is similar to
Urdu, and many of whom were educated in
Urdu under British rule).
Bengalis feared they would be marginalized despite their demographic
strength as, at the time, the largest ethnic group of Pakistan. These
grievances culminated in the secession of
East Bengal (which had been
part of the administrative unit of East Pakistan) and the creation of
Today, nationalist movements within
Pakistan include those of the
Sindhis, Pashtuns, Balochs, Mohajirs, and Kashmiris. The members of
these movements assert that Islam cannot be considered the sole basis
for nationhood, and that
Pakistan is therefore a multinational state.
Their demands range from increased autonomy or the transformation of
Pakistan into a federation, to the recognition of language rights for
non-Urdu-speaking populations, to outright secession.
Despite the fact that
Punjabis are widely seen as the dominant ethnic
group in Pakistan, both economically and politically, there is also a
small Punjabi movement that asserts that the
Punjabi language has been
unfairly subordinated to
Urdu and supports the reestablishment of
cultural and economic links with
East Punjab in India.
When it was formed on 16 September 1963,
Malaysia comprised four
independent, self-governing nations: Malaya, Singapore, Sabah, and
Sarawak. In 1965,
Singapore seceded from the federation. Today,
Malaya, Sabah, and
Sarawak each have their own ethnic majority.
Malaysia is considered to have three major ethnic
groups: Malays, Chinese, and Indians. The
Iban people are the majority
in Sarawak, while
Sabah is dominated by the Kadazan-Dusun, Murut, and
Bajau peoples. Malay is the primary national language, followed by
Sabah and Sarawak, English is the official language,
although many locals speak a dialect of Malay.
People's Republic of China
Main article: List of ethnic groups in China
Although the population of
China is dominated numerically by the Han
Chinese, the government recognizes 56 ethnic groups. Fifty-five of the
56 groups together account for less than 10 percent of the population.
Further information: Ethnic groups in Europe
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina and
Montenegro are the only European states
with no ethnic majority, but many others have ethnic minorities that
form a majority within a province or region (see multilingual
countries and regions of Europe).
Russia has more than 160 ethnic groups and indigenous peoples. The
largest population are the ethnic Russians, who are
Slavs with Eastern
Orthodox religious traditions, while the
Russia is also home to Buddhist populations,
such as the nomadic
Buryats and Kalmyks; the Shamanistic peoples of
Siberia and the Far North; the
Finno-Ugric peoples of the Russian
Northwest and the Volga region; the Korean inhabitants of Sakhalin;
and the peoples of the North Caucasus.
Out of a total of more than 100 languages spoken in Russia, 27 have
the status of official languages, the most widely spoken being
Russian. More than 3 percent of the population speaks Tatar.
Further information: Communities, regions and language areas of
The territory of
Belgium is almost equally divided between the two
Flanders and Wallonia. This led to political unrest
throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, and in the aftermath of the
difficult 2007–08 Belgian government formation, the Belgian media
envisaged a partition of
Belgium as a potential solution.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina consists of the
Federation of Bosnia and
Herzegovina (FBiH), the
Republika Srpska (RS), and the Brčko District
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina is home to three ethnic "constituent peoples":
Serbs (30.78%), and Croats (15.43%). The
country's political divisions were created by the Dayton Agreement,
which recognized a second tier of government comprising two entities:
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina (mostly
Bosniaks and Croats)
Republika Srpska (mostly Serbs), with each governing roughly
half of the state's territory. A third region, the Brčko District,
was governed locally. Today, all three ethnic groups have an equal
constitutional status over the entire territory of Bosnia and
Herzegovina. The country has a bicameral legislature and a
three-member presidency composed of one member of each major ethnic
In order to maintain a nation state,
France does not recognize any
national identity or language other than French in its territory.
However, many of its current and former territories—Alsace,
Brittany, Corsica, Flanders, Moselle, Northern Catalonia, Occitania,
Savoy, and the Basque Country—were not culturally French until they
were francized in the late 19th century. According to WikiLeaks,
former Prime Minister
Michel Rocard told the American ambassador to
France, Craig Roberts Stapleton, in 2005, "
France created itself by
destroying five cultures: Breton, Occitan, Alsatian, Corsican, and
A map showing the predominant ethnic group in each municipality of
Montenegro as of 2011.
Montenegro is a multiethnic state in which no ethnic group forms a
majority. The preamble of the Constitution of
numerous nationalities—Montenegrins, Serbs, Bosniaks, Albanians,
Muslims, Croats, and others—as citizens of a civic and democratic
state. The largest ethnic groups are
Montenegrins (45%), Serbs
Albanians (4.9%), and Muslims (3.3%).
The official language is Montenegrin, but Serbian, Bosnian,
Albanian, and Croatian are also in official use. In the 2011 census,
Serbian was the most common mother tongue (42.88%), Montenegrin the
second (36.97%), and Bosnian the third (5.33%).
Official policy states that
Norway was founded on the territory of two
Norwegians and Samis. In addition, Forest Finns, Kvens,
Jews, Romani, and the
Norwegian and Swedish Travellers are recognized
as national minorities.
See also: Ethnic groups in Serbia
Nineteen ethnic groups are officially recognized as national
minorities in Serbia.
Serbs are the largest ethnic group in the
country, constituting 83.3 percent of the population (excluding
Kosovo). The largest national minorities are Hungarians, Roma, and
Bosniaks, and there are also significant populations of Croats,
Montenegrins, Albanians, Slovaks, Romanians, Vlachs, Rusyns, Gorani,
Macedonians, and Bulgarians. Since 2002, minorities have been entitled
to organize their own national councils. Through those councils,
members of national minorities can exercise their rights in the
spheres of culture, education, information, and the official use of
their own languages and scripts.
Vojvodina is a multiethnic autonomous province in northern Serbia,
with more than 26 ethnic groups and six official
Main article: Nationalisms and regionalisms of Spain
Definitions of ethnicity and nationality in
Spain are politically
fraught, particularly since the transition from Francoist
Spain to the
Spain in the 1970s, when local regionalisms and peripheral
nationalisms became a major part of national politics.
Spanish people (Spanish: pueblo español) is defined in the
Spanish Constitution of 1978
Spanish Constitution of 1978 as the political sovereign, i.e., the
citizens of the Kingdom of Spain. The same constitution, in its
preamble, speaks of "peoples and nationalities of Spain" (pueblos y
nacionalidades de España) and their respective cultures, traditions,
languages, and institutions.
The CIA World Factbook (2011) describes Spain's ethnic makeup as a
"composite of Mediterranean and Nordic types", instead of the usual
breakdown of ethnic composition. This reflects the formation of the
modern Kingdom of
Spain by the accretion of numerous independent
Iberian realms: Andalusia, Aragon, Asturias, Castile, Catalonia,
Galicia, León, Majorca, Navarre, and Valencia. Thus, today's
Spaniards include Andalusians, Aragonese, Asturians, Basques,
Cantabrians, Castilians, Catalans, Galicians, Leonese, and Valencians,
and individual members of these groups may or may not consider them
The four countries of the United Kingdom.
Office for National Statistics
Office for National Statistics describes the United Kingdom
as a nation state, other people, including former Prime
Minister Gordon Brown, describe it as a multinational
state. The term "Home Nations" is used to describe the
national teams that represent the four nations of the United Kingdom:
England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.
Kingdom of Great Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain was created on 1 May 1707 by the
political union of the Kingdom of
England and the Kingdom of
Scotland. This unification was the result of the Treaty of Union,
which was agreed to on 22 July 1706 and then ratified by the
England and the Parliament of
Scotland in the 1707 Acts
of Union. The two kingdoms, along with the Kingdom of Ireland, had
already been in a personal union as a result of the 1603 Union of the
Crowns, in which James VI, King of Scots, inherited the Kingdoms of
Ireland and moved his court from
Edinburgh to London.
However, until 1707, all three had remained separate political
entities with separate political institutions.
Prior to the Acts of Union, the Kingdoms of
had minority populations of their own that could themselves be called
Cornwall were part of the Kingdom of
had been officially incorporated into
England by the Laws in Wales
Acts 1535 and 1542, although it had been a de facto English territory
since the 13th century;
Cornwall had been conquered during the
Anglo-Saxon period). The Northern Isles, with their Norse-derived
culture, were part of Scotland, having been pledged by
security against the payment of a dowry for Margaret of Denmark
and then integrated in 1471. When the
Kingdom of Great Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain was
created, many of its inhabitants retained a sense of English,
Scottish, or Welsh identity. Many of them also spoke languages other
than English: principally Scottish Gaelic, Scots, Welsh, Cornish, and
Almost a century later, the
Kingdom of Ireland
Kingdom of Ireland merged with the Kingdom
of Great Britain to form the
United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Ireland under the 1800 Acts of Union. The
United Kingdom thus
became the union of the kingdoms of England, Ireland, and
Scotland. Eventually, disputes within
Ireland over the terms
of Irish home rule led to the partition of the island: The Irish
Free State received dominion status in 1922, while Northern Ireland
remained part of the UK. As a result, in 1927, the formal title of
the UK was changed to its current form, the
United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Northern Ireland.
Political, ethnic, and religious tensions between Irish and British
Northern Ireland culminated in The Troubles. This period
of armed conflict erupted in 1966 between loyalist paramilitaries,
seeking to maintain the country's position in the UK, and republican
paramilitaries, seeking to unify
Ireland as a 32-county independent
British Army also played a key role. Following the
deaths of over 3,500 people, a peace treaty was reached in
1998, although divisions remain high in some areas and sporadic
violence still occurs.
The end of the 20th century brought major governing changes, with the
establishment of devolved national administrations for Northern
Ireland, Scotland, and
Wales following pre-legislative
The Scottish National Party, the current party of government in
Scotland, is committed to the goal of an independent
the European Union, but this is opposed by the leadership of the next
three largest parties in the Scottish Parliament. A referendum on
Scottish independence was held in September 2014, and the electorate
rejected it. Plaid Cymru, a Welsh party, has a similar ambition
for Wales. Several parties in Northern Ireland, including the
second- and third-largest, seek to establish an independent United
Ireland, and have repeatedly called for border polls. The d'Hondt
system used here means that either the First Minister or Deputy First
Minister will be from one of these parties.
Most countries in
Sub-Saharan Africa are former colonies and, as such,
are not drawn along national lines, making them truly multinational
During its colonial time Ghana was imperialized by many countries and
empires including the British Empire, the Portuguese Empire, the
Danish Empire and the German Empire. Ghana has also seen a large mass
of Chinese, Malay, European, Lebanese, and other multinational
Kenya is home to more than 70 ethnic groups, the most populous of
which are the Kikuyu, at about 20 percent of the population.
Together, the five largest groups—the Kikuyu, Luo, Luhya, Kamba, and
Kalenjin—account for 70 percent of Kenyans.
The largest nation in
Nigeria is the Hausa-Fulani, which accounts for
29 percent of the country's population. However, the group actually
encompasses two distinct ethnicities: the Hausa and the
Fulbe). While both ethnicities are found in large areas of West
Africa, it is only in
Nigeria that they are classified as a single
ethnic group for political expediency.
South Africa is the successor state to the Union of South
Africa, which was formed from four British colonies in 1910.
South Africa has eleven official languages (Afrikaans, English,
Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu)
and formally recognizes several other languages spoken by minority
nations. Speakers of each language may be of a different
nationality—for example, some members of the Ndebele and Tswana
nations speak Zulu, and groups such as the Thembu and Hlubi speak
As is the case throughout Africa, the nations of
South Africa mostly
correspond to specific regions. However, large cities such as
Johannesburg are home to a mixture of national groups, leading to a
"melting pot" of cultures. The government has continuously attempted
to unify the country's various nationalities and to foster a South
Many of the nationalities found in
South Africa are also found in
bordering countries, and in some cases, more members live in South
Africa than in the country where the group originated. For example,
there are more Sotho, Tswana, and
Swazi people living in South Africa
than in the bordering nation states of Lesotho, Botswana, and
Swaziland, respectively. In the past, this has led to conflict.
Lesotho still claims large swathes of South Africa, and attempts have
been made to cede some South African territory to
Swaziland. All three states were intended to be incorporated in the
Union of South Africa, but those plans never came to fruition because
of power struggles within their apartheid governments.
Former multinational states
Main article: List of empires
Further information: List of largest empires
Bukovina (2), Carinthia (3),
Carniola (4), Dalmatia (5),
Galicia (6), Küstenland (7),
Lower Austria (8),
Moravia (9), Salzburg
(10), Silesia (11), Styria (12), Tirol (13),
Upper Austria (14),
Vorarlberg (15), Hungary (16), Croatia-Slavonia (17), and Bosnia (18).
Further information: Ethnic and religious composition of
Austria-Hungary, which succeeded the Austrian Empire, was a historical
multinational state. The centrifugal forces within it, coupled with
its loss in World War I, led to its breakup in 1918. Its successor
states included the First Austrian Republic, the Kingdom of Hungary,
Czechoslovakia, and the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, which
later became part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Parts of
Austria-Hungary were also incorporated into Poland, Ukraine, the
Kingdom of Romania, and the Kingdom of Italy.
The principal languages of
Austria-Hungary were German, Hungarian,
Polish, Czech, and Croatian, but there were also many minor languages,
including Ukrainian, Romanian, Slovak, Serbian, Slovene, Rusyn,
Italian, and Yiddish.
Ottoman Empire was the dynastic state of the Turkish House of
Osman. At its peak in the 16th and 17th centuries, it controlled much
of Southeast Europe, Western Asia, the Caucasus, North Africa, and the
Horn of Africa.
In addition to Turks, the ethnic groups of the
Ottoman Empire included
Albanians, Amazighs, Arabs, Armenians, Assyrians, Bosnians,
Bulgarians, Circassians, Georgians, Greeks, Jews, Kurds, Laz,
Macedonians, Romanians, Serbs, Tatars, and Zazas.
Through millet courts, confessional communities were allowed to rule
themselves under their own legal systems: for example, sharia law for
Canon law for Christians, and halakha law for Jews. After the
Tanzimat reforms from 1839–76, the term "millet" was used to refer
to legally protected religious minority groups, similar to the way
other countries use the word "nation". (The word "millet" comes from
the Arabic word "millah" (ملة), which literally means
"nation".) The millet system has been called an
example of pre-modern religious pluralism.
Soviet Union was a state composed of the Soviet republics (of
which there were 15 after 1956), with the capital in Moscow. It was
founded in December 1922, when the Russian SFSR—which formed during
Russian Revolution of 1917
Russian Revolution of 1917 and emerged victorious in the ensuing
Russian Civil War—unified with the Transcaucasian, Ukrainian, and
Belarusian SSRs. Addressing the Extraordinary Eighth Congress of
Soviets of the
Soviet Union on 25 November 1936,
Joseph Stalin stated
that "within the
Soviet Union there are about sixty nations, national
groups, and nationalities. The Soviet state is a multinational
In the late 1980s, some of the republics sought sovereignty over their
territories, citing Article 72 of the USSR Constitution, which stated
that any constituent republic was free to secede. On 7 April 1990,
a law was passed allowing a republic to secede if more than two-thirds
of its residents voted for secession in a referendum. Many held
free elections, and the resulting legislatures soon passed bills that
contradicted Soviet laws, in what became known as the War of Laws.
In 1989, the Russian SFSR—the largest constituent republic, with
about half of the USSR's population—convened a new Congress of
People's Deputies and elected
Boris Yeltsin its chairman. On 12 June
1990, the Congress declared Russia's sovereignty over its territory
and proceeded to pass legislation that attempted to supersede Soviet
laws. Legal uncertainty continued through 1991 as constituent
republics slowly gained de facto independence.
In a referendum on 17 March 1991, majorities in nine of the 15
republics voted to preserve the Union. The referendum gave Soviet
Mikhail Gorbachev a minor boost, and in the summer of 1991, the
New Union Treaty
New Union Treaty was designed and agreed upon by eight republics. The
treaty would have turned the
Soviet Union into a much looser
federation, but its signing was interrupted by the August Coup—an
attempted coup d'état against Gorbachev by hardline Communist Party
members of the government and the KGB, who sought to reverse
Gorbachev's reforms and reassert the central government's control over
the republics. When the coup collapsed, Yeltsin—who had publicly
opposed it—came out as a hero, while Gorbachev's power was
As a result, the balance of power tipped significantly toward the
republics. In August 1991,
Estonia declared their
independence (following Lithuania's 1990 example), while the other
twelve republics continued to discuss new, increasingly loose models
for the Union.
On 8 December 1991, the presidents of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus
signed the Belavezha Accords, which declared the Soviet Union
dissolved and established the
Commonwealth of Independent States
Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)
in its place. Doubts remained about the authority of the Belavezha
Accords to dissolve the Union, but on 21 December 1991,
representatives of every Soviet republic except Georgia—including
those that had signed the Belavezha Accords—signed the Alma-Ata
Protocol, which confirmed the dissolution of the USSR and reiterated
the establishment of the CIS. On 25 December 1991, Gorbachev yielded,
resigning as the president of the USSR and declaring the office
extinct. He turned the powers vested in the Soviet presidency over to
Yeltsin, the president of Russia.
The following day, the Supreme Soviet, the highest governmental body
of the Soviet Union, dissolved itself. Many organizations, such as the
Soviet Army and police forces, remained in place in the early months
of 1992, but were slowly phased out and either withdrawn from or
absorbed by the newly independent states.
The breakup of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
The first country to be known by this name was the Kingdom of
Yugoslavia, known until 3 October 1929 as the Kingdom of Serbs,
Croats, and Slovenes. It was established on 1 December 1918 by the
union of the State of Slovenes, Croats, and
Serbs and the Kingdom of
Serbia (to which the Kingdom of
Montenegro had been annexed on 13
November 1918), and the
Conference of Ambassadors
Conference of Ambassadors gave international
recognition to the union on 13 July 1922.
The Kingdom of
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