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Can you give examples of a unitary state splitting into several smaller states in modern history. What was the basis for the self determination of the pieces?

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Lots. Too many to chose from really. Why exactly are you asking? –  T.E.D. Sep 7 '12 at 15:13
    
Well I was looking for the formal reasons for a split other than ethnic or religious self determination. That makes Panama and Taiwan somewhat better answers than Kosovo, Cyprus and post-USSR smaller countries. –  horsh Sep 7 '12 at 23:57

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Panama became independent of Colombia in 1903.

Other regions of unitary states have declared independence but not achieved universal international diplomatic recognition, e.g.

  • Kosovo from Serbia in 2008 (around 90 countries)
  • Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia in 2008, Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan in 1991, and Transnistria from Moldova in 1990. Aside from Russia, these countries are mainly recognized by each other
  • Northern Cyprus from Cyprus in 1983 (Turkey alone)
  • Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic from Morocco in 1976 (around 60 countries)
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No mention of Taiwan? –  SevenSidedDie Sep 7 '12 at 1:29
    
@ SevenSidedDie: Could you be more specific? What has been split into what parts and has it really been a unitary state? –  horsh Sep 7 '12 at 1:40
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@SevenSidedDie No, because unlike the other cases, recognition of one requires non-recognition of the other. So either the unitary PRC is undivided, or the unitary ROC is undivided, or China is federal and not unitary. –  choster Sep 7 '12 at 5:31
    
I grasp what you mean about their individual claims to be unitary, but I don't see how it follows that China must be federal for them to be two results of a division, or for other nations to recognise the reality of a division they both deny. –  SevenSidedDie Sep 7 '12 at 7:08
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The question is about splitting of states. Taiwan has never declared independence, and the PRC refuses relations, categorically, with any countries that maintain relations with Taipei, so no split is even possible de jure. Of course, plenty of countries recognize Beijing but carry on trade and other activities with Taipei. But de facto, this means that Taiwan is at least semi-autonomous with certain rights to self-governance that cannot be removed or overruled by the central government, so de facto China governs with a federal structure. So either way, Taiwan is not applicable. –  choster Sep 7 '12 at 16:36

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