I am curious if there are any historical examples whereby the territorial and/or demographic majority of a country seceded from a minority as perhaps they realize maintaining it is more trouble than it's worth and yields a more optimal net result than controlling it by force.

For a hypothetical example, if China decided to, rather than forcefully assimilate Uighurs into Chinese society, it would be easier for the rest of China to secede from Uighuristan regardless of what the Uighurs thought about it (maybe they like being a part, for some reason, and don't want independence). Or if Northern Macedonia decided to force ethnic Albanians from the west of the country to secede as they would rather have a more culturally homogeneous country.

I'd like to know whether there are any historical instances of such policy.

  • 8
    Does Malaysia expelling Singapore count in your example? Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 23:44
  • 1
    The breakup of Yugoslavia is far from a secession by majority, the majority (Serbs) fought for its continuation and then secession of serb parts in Bosnia and Serbia. Czechoslovakia does not qualify either, it was an amicable breakup
    – amphibient
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 23:53
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    Another example: Russia SFSR technically seceded from the USSR since Supreme Soviet of the Russian SFSR denounced the Treaty on the Creation of the USSR and recalled all Russian deputies from the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union. Commented Jan 17, 2020 at 0:00
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    @LarsBosteen I don't really consider those to be actual answers, though. Secession means withdrawing from a political organization, which is different from expulsion, since Malaysia-sans-Singapore didn't withdraw from Malaysia. Russian SFSR did secede from USSR, but that was more of a formality at that point since USSR did not continue afterwards. There may be actual examples in history that I do not know about. Commented Jan 17, 2020 at 0:40
  • 2
    Please see discussion in meta; I suspect that the question would be improved if the examples were chosen more carefully. For example, if there were examples that were ideological or political rather than ethnic or religious. (perhaps Bolshevik/Menshevik?). I think the current choices legitimately distract from the intent of the question.
    – MCW
    Commented Jan 17, 2020 at 12:49

4 Answers 4


Yes. When Brazil became independent in 1822, its approximately 4M residents left Portugal's approximately 3M residents behind, effectively dissolving the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves.

  • Link-only answer. Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 15:20

Bangladesh, which was formerly "East Pakistan," seceded from "Pakistan" in 1971. Although it was larger (at the time) in population than West Pakistan, the center of government and economic power was in the western part of the country.


There are examples from the history of Ancient Rome. After a quarrel between patricians and plebeians, plebeians once succeeded, and moved from Rome to another place nearby (to the so-called Holy Mountain, 3000 steps from the city). I suppose they made a majority of the population. Since patricians could not live without plebeians, negotiations followed and patricians agreed to accept the conditions of plebeians.

Source: Titus Livius (Livy), History of Rome, Book II (509-468 BC), sections 32-33.


This is not truly a secession, but you might want to look into the colonial examples:

  • The 13 colonies
  • India (secceded from UK)
  • Algeria (secceded from France)
  • Angola (secceded from Portugal)

In those examples, on the colonized territory, he majority was a local population who wanted to seccede from the minority coming from metropolitan territory.

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    India's population was greater than the UK's at the time of independence, but that wasn't true in the other cases you cite.
    – Spencer
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 14:28
  • @Spencer Well, the trick would be to consider only the population acutally living in the colonized territories, and the percentage of it wanting to secede versus the percentage that didnot want Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 16:40
  • I don't think that's what OP was asking about.
    – Spencer
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 17:06

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