There are 195 independent nations in the world. There also 12 semi or unrecognized nations that have de-facto independence. Alongside these, there are hundreds of separatist groups, some violent, some peaceful, that are fighting for their regions to break away and form independent nations. But why? What advantages are there of being an independent sovereign state?
1. An Independent Country Can Control Its Own Economy
A first advantage of a country being independent is that it can control its own economy.
Having a strong and growing economy is key to a nation’s prosperity. Creating economic conditions that allow people to set-up and run businesses to meet consumer needs is key to making people wealthy. Domestic and international trade, as well as innovation and development, are also vital if a country is going to succeed.
Being an independent country is massively advantageous because it allows the national government to control the economy. This means they can pass laws that help their economy prosper. Every economy operates within a unique environment and being a sovereign state means policies can be implemented that directly help a country’s economy.
When a region is not independent it must accept laws made by a national government. These often are not to the advantage of the region’s local economy.
As an independent country, governments control key economic areas including taxes, trade tariffs, labour law and immigration controls. Having direct governance over economic functions such as these is a major advantage of being a sovereign nation.
2. An Independent Nation Can Manage Its Own Natural Resources
A second advantage of being an independent country is that it allows a nation to control their own natural resources.
Natural resources, such as oil, gas, iron, copper, uranium, gold, cocoa, and timber, drive the modern world economy. Almost every country in the world has some form of natural resources they use or sell on the global market. Access to natural resources is vital for a developed economy and sourcing them effectively is key to a nation’s success.
Being an independent country is beneficial because it allows a nation to govern the natural resources it has. This means they can use the natural resources at their disposal to power their economies. It also means they can sell natural resources and use the profits to fund government programmes and build successful businesses.
Regions that are not independent often lack control over their natural resources. They rarely see the full benefit of the resources they have, with the direction for their use being controlled by the national government. Funds raised from selling resources in non-independent regions also often go to national or international companies, or the national government. Many places want independence because of the advantages controlling their own natural resources can bring.
3. Sovereign States Can Better Protect Their Culture
A third reason why being an independent country is advantageous is because it allows a people to protect their culture.
Every society has a unique culture. It’s art, food, traditions, customs, religious practices, and language are key to how a people see themselves and how their community functions. However, ethnic, or cultural groups, that do not have an independent country risk having their culture lost within a wider national way of life.
A major advantage of being an independent country is that it allows a people to ensure that their lifestyle is protected. Governments of sovereign states can enact laws that ensure their people’s way of life is not lost. Independence also allows people to practice their cultural and religious traditions without persecution. Many regions see a benefit of being independent as being able to live how they choose without interference.
Many people fear their culture and way of life being lost. As the world becomes ever more inter-connected and globalised, this is a real fear. Being a sovereign state is advantageous because it means that people have a degree of control over how their culture is practiced and have the freedom to live the way their society chooses.
4. Independent Countries Can Choose Their Own Governments
Another advantage of being an independent country is that it means a nation can pick its own government.
Every country in the world has a system of government. This is made up of a legislature, executive and judiciary. How a country is governed, and the way in which its leaders are selected, is key to how a state functions.
A major benefit of being a sovereign country is that it means a society can choose what type and system of government it wants. Areas that are not independent get less say in how they are governed.
Being an independent country also means that leaders are accountable to the people of a territory. Places that are not self-governing are ruled by leaders in national capitals. Many people see an advantage in independence as being able to select leaders that are from their own ethnic, religious, linguistic or culture groups, as well as choosing systems of government that represent their ideals, economic interests, and the way they want to live their lives.
5. A Sovereign Nation Can Make Its Own International Relations
A further reason why being independent is beneficial for a country is because it allows a nation to make their own international relations.
All countries need allies. Working together with other nations improves a country’s security. It also allows them to build trade links and improve business ties, further building a nations prosperity. Being able to choose which other nations a country builds links with is a major advantage of being a sovereign state.
International relations are built at the national and international level. Internal regions of a country cannot build strong links with other nations. Being independent is advantageous because it allows a country to oversee its own international affairs.
A key way that independent states take advantage of being able to make their own international relations is by choosing where they establish embassies. Independent countries can also participate in international bodies such as the United Nations, or regional organisations such as the European or African Unions. Independent states can also join defensive alliances, such as NATO or the CSTO.
Being able to choose what international bodies a country joins is a big advantage of being independent.
6. Independence Helps Nations Defend Against Aggressors
Every nation faces external threats. An advantage of being independent is that it can help a country deter aggression.
Independent states raise a national army which is their main force of defence. This allows them to resist attacks as well as take pre-emptive action against enemies. Independent nation states also have a police force that helps fight crime and often works against other domestic threats such as armed groups, gangs, cyber-criminals, and enemy agents.
A major advantage of being an independent country is that it allows a nation to oversee its own defence. This means they can fund, equip, train, and deploy their forces when and as they are needed.
Another way that sovereign states use their advantage of being able to oversee their own defence is by joining alliances. Self-governing countries can make formal alliances with other nations for their defence, as well as join defensive alliances.
Many separatist groups want an independent state because they feel their people will be better protected.
7. Independence Means A People Will Not Be A Minority
A final advantage of being an independent country is that it means a people will not be a minority within a larger nation.
Minority groups – either ethnic, religious, linguistic, or cultural, are often discriminated against. This is because most nations represent their majority population and minority groups are often excluded. This can mean anything from less well-funded public services to persecution and the denial of citizenship.
Being a sovereign country is advantageous because it allows a community to form a nation state around a single identity. Many separatist groups fight for independence because they do not want their people to be minorities within a larger state. They see the advantage of having a national home for their people where they can be their own majority.
An independent state is a way for people to govern themselves, ensure their defence, protect their culture, and live their lives how they choose. Bring a minority within a larger country makes this more difficult for a society. A major advantage of being an independent country is that a minority group can be protected.