Has any country won a war, but lost a non-trivial amount of its territory? For example, 10% or 20%. It doesn't matter whether this country still exists or not.

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    most (successful) revolutions - the new country is almost always smaller.
    – MCW
    Commented Dec 9, 2015 at 18:20
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    After the 1971 Indo-Pakistani war, and the independence of Bangladesh, India ceded the territory in the 1972 Simla conference, which it had won in the war.
    – taninamdar
    Commented Dec 9, 2015 at 20:43
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    All the European allied powers lost their empires after ww2...
    – Ne Mo
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 7:25
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    @taninamdar If we use your logic, we can also say "USA lost territories in Western Germany despite winning ww2", "German Empire lost territories in France despite winning 1870 Franco-Prussian war", "British Empire lost territories in Russia despite winning Crimean War". You can't lose what was never yours. The OP is asking if a country has lost Its own territory during a peace settlement after winning a war. The Indian occupied territory was not a de-jure part of India nor did India claim as such. idk how 3 people found that relevant or helpful comment
    – NSNoob
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 9:44
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    @NSNoob FYA, I have in the past, marked comments as helpful, even if wrong, if they caused me to learn more information. The upvote flyover says "this comment adds something useful to the post" not "this comment is factually correct." Even if it is wrong, as long as it's incorrectness is pointed out elsewhere, such as by you here, it can still be useful for a reader.
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Dec 11, 2015 at 13:14

13 Answers 13


Some examples from WW2:

Poland was on the winning side but lost the eastern half of the country to the USSR. Yes they got compensated by German territories, but we could have some fun debating the relevance of that.

Britain came out a winner but it's impoverishment was a significant factor leading to withdrawal from the Empire.

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    I do not see how you can possibly claim that Poland "won" the Second world War.
    – fdb
    Commented Dec 9, 2015 at 22:03
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    @fdb If you challenge the claim that "Poland was on the winning side", what do you suggest then? Did Poland lose? Remain neutral?
    – macraf
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 0:40
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    The post war government of Poland was imposed on it by the Soviet Union, so it was no-less conquered after the Russians drove the Germans out. The Poland that started out allied with Britain and France ceased to exist in 1939.
    – user15620
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 1:05
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    @StevenBurnap Poland never ceased to exist, first of all there was legal government in exile, second of all, there was Polish Army which were fighting on ALL WWII fronts. When Germany and Soviets started WWII it was Poland to stand against both aggressors (Germany 01/09/1939 Soviets 17/09/1939) "allies" did nothing from military point of view. After German-Soviet "love" has ended and Soviets became "allies" brits with yankees colaborated with soviets to trade Poland for soviet war effort (only men as war devices were given to them under leand-lease agreement) - please learn some history first. Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 9:17
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    @fdb - Easy... Poland survived six years of conquest and partition as a sovereign nation-state when only 25 years prior it had been a province of the two major powers on either side of it. If you want to argue they lost due to destruction to life, wealth and property well then I guess the Russians and British lost as well. If you want to argue that their government was imposed them we could have a good discussion about whether or not the Marshall Plan "bought" friendly governments in the west.
    – Doug B
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 14:37

I have read your question as "Has a country ever won a war, and still "lost" territory, and if so, why?"

One example was the Austro-Sardinian War, otherwise known as the Second War of Italian Independence.

Sardinia (Piedmont) won the war. She did so with the help of France, under Napoleon III. She had to cede her holdings of Savoy and Nice to France to obtain this help, (thereby "losing" territory to France). She was "compensated" by getting Lombardy from Austria in a winning war. Shortly thereafter, Piedmont's enhanced military and diplomatic stature enabled her to annex other parts of northern and central Italy, and ultimately unite all of Italy under her rule.

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    @hetajr: Yes, see the link.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Dec 9, 2015 at 18:21
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    On a related note, Sweden was attacked by Denmark and Russia, and won the war against Denmark by giving Finland to Russia, so that they would step down, leaving Sweden only to worry about the Danish army, which it promptly defeated. ;-) Obviously the real winner is Russia. And in your case, the real winner is France. But yeah, sure, I guess that's as close as it gets. Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 11:27
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    @LennartRegebro: I gave one example. There are surely others.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 15:11
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    On thing not mentioned here was that S-P's tactic of ceeding territory full of Italian-speakers (and particularly Garabaldi's own hometown) to France to get help with Italian unification so enraged General Giuseppe Garibaldi that he took the next opportunity he saw to liberate the south of the peninsula himself, which is what set off the chain of events that completed the unification of Italy.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Dec 12, 2015 at 1:55
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    Also, Savoy(Piedmont) was in the winning coalition of the War of the Quadruple Alliance but had to give up Sicily (they got Sardinia as a consolation prize)
    – Spencer
    Commented Mar 6, 2023 at 16:48

Such scenario is not uncommon during the decolonization-related wars of the 20th century. The colonial power is often able to defeat the other side militarily, but for political or other reasons had to withdraw. Some examples:

  • Indonesian National Revolution (1945-1949), was considered to be a Dutch military victory, since Dutch military forces were able to defeat the Indonesian republicans and maintain control of Indonesia's major towns, cities and industrial assets. However, diplomatic pressure as well as the continuing guerrilla warfare forced it to accept the independence of Indonesia, formerly its colony since the 17th century.
  • Suez Crisis (1956). Egypt nationalized/seized the Suez Canal (which was previously held by the British) in 1956. Britain, France and Israel subsequently attacked and defeated Egypt, but political pressure forced them to withdraw and accept Egypt's control of the canal.

Despite being outnumbered and outgunned Finland managed to repel a Soviet invasion in the Winter War of 1939-40 although they lost 11% of their land area.

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    Finland lost the that war.
    – ed.hank
    Commented Apr 3, 2016 at 4:56
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    @user3338197 officially yep but I'd say since preservance of Finnish Freedom was the main objective & since Soviet Union was a HUGE adversary, they sorta won by getting rid of the bear by sacrificing few regions. Remember what happened to Baltic states who could not hold off the bear?
    – NSNoob
    Commented May 12, 2016 at 5:35
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    If I remember well, they surendered just before the USSR could bring heavy reinforcement. So they somewhat lost but with a shameful victory for the USSR. It prevented complete invasion but they had to give up a very important part of the country.
    – MakorDal
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 6:41
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    In a broader sense, Finland both began and ended WWII on the ultimately winning side, yet lost territory.
    – C Monsour
    Commented May 31, 2019 at 16:35
  • @MakorDal, they didn't surrender; they negotiated peace. Surrender to USSR would mean genocide and deportation, as certain declassified Russian documents show. For example, Vyborg (Viipuri), the largest Finnish city ceded to USSR, was carpet bombed by USSR after the peace was signed.
    – Michael
    Commented Nov 15, 2021 at 21:22

War between Chile and the coalition of Peru and Bolivia During this war, Chile payed with territory (Patagonia territories) to Argentina in order to prevent Argentinian intervention in the war against Chile. Thanks to this deal, Chile won the war and several territories from Peru and Bolivia. But Chile lost any demand over territories on the Patagonia east of Los Andes mountains, territories twice the size of Germany.


India had won some territory in the 1971 Indo-Pakistani war, which was a victory for India and newly independent Bangladesh. However, India ceded the territory in the 1972 Simla agreement as a gesture of goodwill.

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    India did not technically win the said territory, they briefly occupied it and used it as leverage against Pakistan during the peace talks. The casus belli was liberation of Bangladesh, not occupation of Pakistani mainland. Hence India had no claim or intention to maintain the occupation anyways which would have been wrong under international laws as well. TLDR that territory was not de jure indian territory hence India didn't "lose" it which makes your answer invalid.
    – NSNoob
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 7:45
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    If we use your logic, we can also say "USA lost territories in Western Germany despite winning ww2", "German Empire lost territories in France despite winning 1870 Franco-Prussian war", "British Empire lost territories in Russia despite winning Crimean War". You can't lose what was never yours. The OP is asking if a country has lost Its own territory during a peace settlement after winning a war.
    – NSNoob
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 9:42
  • Hm, I see your point. It's just that matters are not that distant, remote and uncontroversial in case of India-Pakistan as they are for Britain-Crimea or USA-West Germany -- Indian and Pakistani claims for the boundary of the state of J&K are very different. I will leave the answer here in case someone's interested.
    – taninamdar
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 16:14
  • All of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh was one country not too long ago.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Nov 15, 2021 at 19:44

Ethiopia was militarily successful in the Italo-Ethiopian War of 1887–1889, but still lost territory.

... while Ethiopia had been successful in the field, the Italians had managed to occupy territory and retreat in an orderly way. They retained their acquisitions on the Red Sea. [Ethiopian emperor] Menelik recognized the Italian occupation of his rivals' lands of Bogos, Hamasien, Akkele Guzay and Serae in exchange for guarantees of financial assistance and continuing access to European arms and ammunition.


Israel captured the Sinai Peninsula in the Six-Day War of 1967, yet despite winning another war would give it up at the negotiating table a decade later.

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At the time of cease-fire Israel was winning the Yom Kippur War of 1973, having reversed their early losses, encircled the Egyptian 3rd Army, crossed the Suez Canal, threatening the regional capital of Ismailia, and advancing on the capital Cairo.

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Yet in 1978 negotiating the peace treaty at Camp David, Israel voluntarily gave up the Sinai Peninsula at the negotiating table in exchange for demilitarization and UN monitoring of the Sinai. Israel secured their western border, and Egypt got their land back.


Czechoslovakia won WWII (or at least was on the winning side) and lost Subcarpathia to the Soviet Union. Unlike Poland, the Czechoslovak government was not a Soviet puppet, the annexation (ehm, voluntary expression of the workers' desire to join their brothers in Ukrainian SSR) was unexpected and unwelcome (though the territory was not worth much and Czechoslovakia was probably in better shape economically without it), and there was no compensation.


Serbia was on the allies side in World War 1 but it didn't exist after it and became Yugoslavia instead. Even though they expanded their land it was no longer Serbia so it technically lost 100% of its land.


Would British Empire loosing most of its colonies within 10 years after winning WWII count? Although the loss was not immediate, it was triggered by the loss of geopolitical positions due to expenses of WWII and rise of Britain's WWII allies.

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    Many of the forces that caused the British Empire to give up its colonies were already building before the war even started, though.
    – user15620
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 1:02
  • @StevenBurnap - Agreed. However, it was the war that proved to the world that the UK could no longer protect its Pacific possessions (and India was effectively protecting itself with local resources). Australia in particular realized early on that they were relying entirely on the USA for protection, while they were forced to expend their own resources protecting England rather than the other way round. They weren't particularly happy about it.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Dec 12, 2015 at 2:04

How about all the little German principalities that were on the winning side of the Wars of the Umpteenth Coalition from 1792-1815 but were wiped off the map nonetheless?

Also, considering that same conflict, Austria was ultimately victorious, but lost Belgium.


Arguably Pontiac's War. Not sure how you measure who won/lost that war; you could look at the treaty and at the changes forced on the British. But there is no doubt that the indigenous Americans lost territory and much much more.