List of countries that have gained independence from the United Kingdom

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Below are lists of the countries and territories formerly ruled or administered by the United Kingdom or part of the British Empire, with their independence days. Some countries did not gain their independence on a single date, therefore the latest day of independence is shown with a break down of dates further down. A total of 63 countries have claimed their independence.

Colonies[edit]

Country Pre-independence name
(if different)
Date Year of independence Notes
 Afghanistan 19 August 1919 Anglo-Afghan Treaty of 1919
 Antigua and Barbuda Antigua, Leeward Islands 1 November 1981
 Australia 11 December 1931 Statute of Westminster 1931 and Australia Act 1986
 Papua New Guinea gained independence from Australia on 16 September 1975.
 The Bahamas 10 July 1973
 Bahrain 15 August 1971
 Barbados 30 November 1966 Barbados Independence Act 1966
 Belize British Honduras 21 September 1981 September Celebrations of Belize
 Botswana Bechuanaland 30 September 1966
 Brunei 1 January 1984
 Cameroon took in Southern Cameroons 1 October 1961 The Southern Cameroons became part of Cameroon on 1 October 1961.
 Canada 11 December 1931 Statute of Westminster, 1931


British North America Act 1867, July 1st: Canada Day
Constitution Act, 1982

 Cyprus 16 August 1960 Cyprus Independence Day is commonly celebrated on 1 October.[1]
 Dominica Dominica, Windward Islands 3 November 1978
 Egypt 28 February 1922
True Egyptian independence only came in 1952; during the 1922-1952 period, the Egyptian rulers were forced by the UK to defer to British "advisers" in Cairo and the UK truly controlled Egypt's foreign policy and defense and at will stationed British troops on Egyptian territory.
 Eswatini Swaziland 6 September 1968 Gained independence as Swaziland. Renamed Eswatini in 2018.
 Fiji 10 October 1970
 The Gambia Gambia 18 February 1965
 Ghana Gold Coast, Togoland 6 March 1957
 Grenada Grenada, Windward Islands 7 February 1974 Independence Day (Grenada)
 Guyana British Guiana 26 May 1966
 China Included Hong Kong 1 July 1997 Hong Kong became Special Administrative Region of China on 1 July 1997.
 India British Raj 15 August 1947 Independence Day (India)
 Ireland 6 December 1922 Republic of Ireland Act and Ireland Act 1949
 Iraq 3 October 1932
 Israel Palestine 14 May 1948 Independence gained after League of Nations mandate ended, and reaffirmed by a UN resolution to divide the Palestine mandate to a Jewish and an Arab states.
 Jamaica 6 August 1962 Independence Day (6 August)
 Jordan Transjordan 25 May 1946
 Kenya 12 December 1963
 Kiribati Gilbert and Ellice Islands 12 July 1979
 Kuwait 19 June 1961
 Lesotho Basutoland 4 October 1966
 Libya 24 December 1951 Libya had been under the rule of the Ottoman Empire since the middle of the sixteenth century. Following the Italo-Turkish war of 1912, Libya became an Italian colony. With their defeat in World War II, the Italians lost control of Libya. The country came under UN administration. Control was split between France and Britain, with France administering the province Fezzan while the British administered the provinces of Cyrenaica and Tripolitania. In 1949, the UN General Assembly declared that Libya should become an independent country by 1 January 1952. On 24 December 1951, Libya declared its independence from France and Britain becoming the United Kingdom of Libya, a constitutional and hereditary monarchy under King Idris.
 Malawi Nyasaland 6 July 1964
 Malaysia Four parts: Malaya, North Borneo, Singapore and Sarawak 31 August 1957 As the Federation of Malaya (Federation of Malaya Independence Act 1957). North Borneo (now Sabah), Sarawak and Singapore gained full independence and joined Malaysia on 16 September 1963 under the Malaysia Agreement (Malaysia Act 1963).
 Singapore gained independence from Malaysia on 9 August 1965.
 Maldives 26 July 1965
 Malta 21 September 1964
 Mauritius 12 March 1968
 Myanmar 4 January 1948 Gained independence as Burma. Renamed Myanmar in 1989, but still officially known by the United Kingdom government as Burma.
 Nauru 31 January 1968 Independence from the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand on 31 January 1968.
 New Zealand 11 December 1931 Dominion Day


 Samoa gained independence from New Zealand on 1 January 1962.
New Zealand has responsibilities for two freely associated states:
 Cook Islands (from 4 August 1965)
 Niue (from 19 October 1974)

 Nigeria took in Northern Cameroons 1 October 1960
 Pakistan British Raj 14 August 1947 Independence Day (Pakistan)


 Bangladesh gained independence from Pakistan in 1971 (recognised in 1972).

 Palestine 5 November 1988 Palestine ceased to be administered by the Colonial Service on 14 May 1948.
 Qatar 3 September 1971
 Saint Lucia St Lucia, Windward Islands 22 February 1979
 Saint Kitts and Nevis St Kitts–Nevis and Anguilla, Leeward Islands 19 September 1983
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines St Vincent, Windward Islands 27 October 1979
 Seychelles 29 June 1976
 Sierra Leone 27 April 1961
 Solomon Islands British Solomon Islands 7 July 1978
 South Africa 31 May 1961 1931 adoption of Statute of Westminster. Not a public holiday. Union of South Africa formed on 31 May 1910 and Republic declared on 31 May 1961 and left the British Commonwealth on the same day. South Africa later rejoined the British Commonwealth in 1994.


 Namibia gained independence from South Africa on 21 March 1990.

 Somalia took in British Somaliland Protectorate 26 June 1960 The British Somaliland Protectorate gained independence on 26 June 1960 then united with the Trust Territory of Somalia on 1 July 1960 to form the Somali Republic.
 Sri Lanka Ceylon 4 February 1948 Gained independence as the Dominion of Ceylon. Renamed Sri Lanka in 1972.
 Sudan 1 January 1956  South Sudan gained independence from Sudan on 9 July 2011.
 Tanzania took in Tanganyika 9 December 1961 Tanganyika became independent on 9 December 1961. It joined with Zanzibar on 25 April 1964 to form Tanzania.
 Tonga 4 June 1970
 Trinidad and Tobago 31 August 1962
 Tuvalu Gilbert and Ellice Islands 1 October 1978
 Uganda 9 October 1962
 United Arab Emirates 2 December 1971 National Day (United Arab Emirates)
 United States Thirteen Colonies 4 July 1776 Fourth of July. Declaration of Independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1776. Last major battle of the American Revolutionary War fought in 1781. British government recognized independence in 1783.
 Vanuatu New Hebrides 30 July 1980 Independence from United Kingdom and France in 1980
 Yemen Aden Colony and Protectorate 30 November 1967 South Yemen 1967
 Zambia Northern Rhodesia 24 October 1964
 Zimbabwe Southern Rhodesia 18 April 1980 Southern Rhodesia declared independence from United Kingdom on 11 November 1965

Evolution of Dominions to independence[edit]

Country Date of Dominion status Date of adoption of the Statute of Westminster Date of final relinquishment of British powers Final event in question. Other important dates
 Australia 1 January 1901 9 October 1942 (effective from 1939) 3 March 1986 Australia Act 1986
 Canada 1 July 1867 11 December 1931 17 April 1982 Canada Act 1982
 Ireland 6 December 1922 11 December 1931 18 April 1949 Republic of Ireland Act and Ireland Act 1949 The 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic and 1919 Irish Declaration of Independence were never recognised by the UK but given symbolic priority by post-1922 Irish leaders. From the 1932 Irish election, successive governments unilaterally amended the state's status: the Constitution (Removal of Oath) Act on 3 May 1933 implicitly abrogated the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty; the 27th amendment and External Relations Act, both on 12 December 1936, attenuated the role of the monarchy; the enactment of the Constitution on 29 December 1937 established the office of President; the Republic of Ireland Act came into force on 18 April 1949 with Ireland formally leaving the British Commonwealth. Related UK statutes included the Éire (Confirmation of Agreements) Act 1938 and the Ireland Act 1949.
 Dominion of Newfoundland 26 September 1907 17 April 1982 Canada Act 1982 Newfoundland voted to join Canada in 1948 in a 52-48 vote; this became effective on 31 March 1949.
 South Africa 31 May 1910 11 December 1931 21 May 1961 South African Constitution of 1961
 New Zealand 26 September 1907 25 November 1947 13 December 1986 Constitution Act 1986 Declaration of Independence of New Zealand 1835, Treaty of Waitangi 1840

Former British Crown Colonies that became part of another British Crown Colony then later restored previous status[edit]

Country Date Year Notes
 Anguilla July 1971

Anguilla declared independence from St Kitts and Nevis in 1967, following the Anguillan Revolution; in favour of returning to British authority in 1971 with full British Crown Colony status (renamed in 2002 as British Overseas Territory status) returning in 1980.

British Overseas Territories that have voted against another independent country sharing sovereignty over the territory with the British Crown[edit]

Country Date Year Notes
 Gibraltar 7 November 2002 Gibraltar held a referendum on whether or not to share sovereignty with Spain. They rejected the proposal by 98.48% to 1.02% in favour of remaining solely a British overseas territory.

British Overseas Territories that have voted to retain their British Overseas Territory status[edit]

Country Date Year Notes
 Falkland Islands 11 March 2013 Falkland Islanders voted in favour of remaining a British overseas territory by 99.8% to 0.2%.

Territories formerly administered by the British Colonial Service that have gained independence[edit]

Country Pre-Independence name
(if different)
Date Year of Independence
 Antigua and Barbuda Antigua, Leeward Islands 1 November 1981
 The Bahamas 10 July 1973
 Barbados 30 November 1966
 Botswana Bechuanaland 30 September 1966
 Cameroon Northern Cameroons became part of Nigeria, 1 June 1961; Southern Cameroons became part of Cameroon, 1 October 1961 1 October 1961
 Cyprus 16 August 1960
 Dominica Dominica, Windward Islands 3 November 1978
 Eswatini Swaziland 6 September 1968
 The Gambia Gambia 18 February 1965
 Ghana Gold Coast 6 March 1957
 Grenada Grenada, Windward Islands 7 February 1974
 Guyana British Guiana 26 May 1966
 Hong Kong became Special Administrative Region of China 1 July 1997
 Jamaica 6 August 1962
 Kenya 12 December 1963
 Kiribati Gilbert and Ellice Islands 12 July 1979
 Lesotho Basutoland 4 October 1966
 Malawi Nyasaland 6 July 1964
 Malaysia Four parts: Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore 31 August 1957
 Maldives 26 July 1965
 Nigeria 1 October 1960
 Israel 14 May 1948
 Saint Lucia St Lucia, Windward Islands 22 February 1979
 Saint Kitts and Nevis St Kitts–Nevis and Anguilla, Leeward Islands 19 September 1983
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines St Vincent, Windward Islands 27 October 1979
 Seychelles 29 June 1976
 Sierra Leone 27 April 1961
 Somalia British Somaliland Protectorate became part of Somalia 26 June 1960
 Sri Lanka Ceylon 4 February 1948
 Tanzania Tanganyika became independent on 9 December 1961. It joined with Zanzibar on 25 April 1964 to form Tanzania. 9 December 1961
 Trinidad and Tobago 31 August 1962
 Tuvalu Gilbert and Ellice Islands 1 October 1978
 Uganda 9 October 1962
 Vanuatu New Hebrides 30 July 1980
 Yemen Aden Colony and Protectorate, became South Yemen 1967, then part of Yemen 1990 30 November 1967
 Zambia Northern Rhodesia 24 October 1964

British Overseas Territories that have voted not to be an independent country[edit]

Country Date Year Notes
 Bermuda 16 August 1995 Bermudians voted against independence for the territory in a 1995 referendum by 73.6% to 25.7%.

Countries or province forming part of the United Kingdom that have voted to remain part of the United Kingdom[edit]

Country Date Year Notes
 Northern Ireland 8 March 1973 In the 1973 Northern Ireland sovereignty referendum, voters in Northern Ireland were asked to decide if they wanted to remain in the United Kingdom or to leave and join with the Republic of Ireland. They voted in favour of the United Kingdom by 98.9% to 1.1%, although Irish Nationalists boycotted the vote.

Countries forming part of the United Kingdom that have voted not to be an independent country[edit]

Country Date Year Notes
 Scotland 18 September 2014 In the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, 55.3% of voters who qualified as residents of Scotland, chose 'No' to the question: 'Should Scotland be an independent country?' 44.7% of voters chose 'Yes'. In March 2017, permission to run a second referendum was requested from Westminster by the Scottish Parliament, triggered by the Brexit vote, which saw a majority of voters in England and Wales vote to leave the EU while a majority in Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain.

Québec voted against independence in two referendums in 1980 and 1995.

Countries or region which did not vote to terminate British rule yet were relinquished[edit]

Country Date Year Notes
 Hong Kong 30 June 1997 In 1984 the British government signed the Sino-British Joint Declaration with China and agreed to turn over Hong Kong and its dependencies in 1997. It was never put forward to the people of the territory to decide in the form of a referendum, and neither was it ever agreed by an elected legislature. British rule ended on 30 June 1997, with China taking over at midnight, 1 July 1997.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "United Nations Member States". Un.org. Retrieved 4 November 2008.