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On what grounds are countries considered sovereign? had part of its question as

By what means is a country considered legitimate or sovereign, even if [its] foundation were through violence or outright genocide?

Although I'm pretty sure which country was being referred to, it could also refer to Australia, which currently is recognised by every country (source: it isn't listed in Wikipedia's List of states with limited recognition).

Approximately what proportion of recognised countries have their foundation through violence and/or genocide?

(Mentioning genocide as well as violence may sound tautological, but at least some definitions of genocide aren't limited to the killing of people)

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    I'm afraid this is going to be politically loaded for almost every single country. – Bregalad Dec 13 '17 at 11:29
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    Historically, that wasn't necessarily perceived as a problem. That's a problem for a country seeking recognition now. – Relaxed Dec 13 '17 at 11:37
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    Would you be able to name a single country which foundation would NOT be through some violence ? Most european nation have built themselves by fighting each other, countries born through decolonization probably have all known some fights against colonization, etc. Maybe Easter Island first societies ? – Evargalo Dec 13 '17 at 11:59
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    100% of them, if you dig into actual history. At the very least, 100% of Europe, 100% of South America, as much of Asia as I can think of (aside from perhaps minor outliers; but big ones all were founded through violence). Ironically, modern day Israel as a country was not founded through violence - it was founded through UN mandate (it did have to defend from Arab countries attacking it the moment it was founded, but that wasn't the basis of its foundation, merely of its survival); although if you go far back in history, you also have invading tribes founding it through violence. – user4012 Dec 13 '17 at 14:21
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    @origimbo: And if you go back somewhat further, the Catholic Church only became dominant enough to be considered a state through the violent suppression of schismatics, heretics, and "pagans". – jamesqf Dec 13 '17 at 18:39
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A vast majority of the world. Too broad to cover in 100% detail, but let's do highlights of the big ones:

  1. Russia.

    Founded by conquest of Kievan Rus slavs originally (double extra dose of irony: original Kievan Rus territory is now outside of Russia; in Ukraine). Later; founded as independent state by a war of independence against Mongols in 14th century. Large parts of modern day Russia were conquered by force of arms in 15-19th centuries (Central Asia, near-Caucasus republics, North-West from Poland/Lithuania/Sweden as random examples).

  2. China.

    Early Chinese states were all founded through violence. Modern PRC and ROC were founded as a result of civil war between Mao and CKS in 1940s.

  3. USA

    War of Independence against Britain; and armed conquest of large chunks of territory (Texas from Mexico; Florida; arguably many areas from Native American tribes during 19th century. Mind you, before yelling about whites, those samesuch Native American tribes conquered the area previously - the most ironic example being the stereotypical case of complaints, the Black Hills of Dakota, which is usually portrayed as US government conquering from Lakota/Sioux... forgetting to mention that they conquered the area from previous tribes a hundred years prior).

  4. Mexico

    Originally who knows. Then, Mexica conquered it and built their empire. Then Spanish conquered it and made a bunch of Central and South American colonies. Then there were wars of independence against Spain.

    Similar was the case with many other South/Central American states, except in places replace Spain with Portugal.

  5. Almost all of Europe

    Most of Europe is a result of (1) conquest of steppe tribes; (2) conquest of - and genocide of - Celts by Roman Empire, starting with Ceasar; (3) More recently, assorted wars and invasions of everyone against everyone, including but not limited to Turkey/Ottomans/Arabs in south-eastern Europe.

    For specific modern countries you also have: Italy was war of Independence, France was 100 year war and other wars, Spain and Portugal was Reconquista, Austria was constant war against Turks, Germany is hard to pin but I'll go with 30 year war (ditto Netherlands); Poland in the most recent case WWII and prior to that tons of wars including those involving Swedes and Russians.

  6. Most of Middle East

    Arab revolts against Ottomans in early 20th Century in most recent cases. Of course in case of Persia/Iran and Iraq/Assyria, you have gazillion of years of warfare and invasion before then, starting with Hittites, Babylon, Assyrians, Persians, etc...

    Egypt had invasions in ancient history which broadly formed it, then Alexander the Great that formed a more modern Egypt under Ptolemeic dynasty.

    Turkey was most recently formed through conquest by Ottomans (and earlier conquests); with Armenian genocide in early 20th century thrown in.

    Since the context of asking the question is likely USA's recognition of Jerusalem, let's dig into that area deeper.

    Ironically, modern day Israel is arguably the least violent in its foundation (recently at least - the original Ancient Israel was of course founded through conquest like everyone else, at least if you accept Old testament timeline as valid history). Modern day Israel ex-occupied-territories was established peacefully as part of UN vote - although, you can quibble that it was preceded by some terrorist activity against British. And no, the subsequent wars against invading Arab states don't count - they were not part of "founding" a country, they were part of defending its existence after founding (same way, WWII doesn't count for Russia or France, even if it started 1 day after it was founded). However, Arab Palestinians are there (recognized state or not) are there as part of conquest - depending on your choice of how far back to look, Ottoman conquest of the area; or earlier Arab Muslim conquests, or indirectly earlier, Roman wars which destroyed Ancient Israel and resulted in Jews being kicked out so Arabs could move in. This is Levant, there's always some war, conquest or fighting going on just like in Mesopotamia... prime real estate, baby).


The big exceptions I can think of, MAYBE, and mostly through my lack of knowledge of their less recent history, are Japan (but, see Ainu), Finland, Ethiopia (if you don't count defensive war against Italy), New Zealand (Maori were not conquered iirc).

Comments on the questions mentioned Iceland and Easter Island.

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    Many Ainu of Hokkaido would disagree with your statement about Japan above. – Robert Columbia Dec 13 '17 at 14:57
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    @RobertColumbia - good point! I'm not sure how much that was as far as fraction of big picture, so I dumped it into "don't know enough, maybe" bucket. – user4012 Dec 13 '17 at 15:01
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    @user4012: Finland's independence from Russia was immediately followed by a civil war so it may not count. OTOH, Iceland probably does count as being founded peacefully. – Royal Canadian Bandit Dec 13 '17 at 15:15
  • Re "before yelling about whites...": avoidable praeteritio. The ensuing data would be better suited for a preceding entry about whichever pre-colombian nations seem most relevant. – agc Dec 13 '17 at 15:48
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    @user4012 The 1947-1948 Palestine Civil War happened after the U.N. declaration but before the Israel declaration of independence. The 1948 Arab-Israeli war happened immediately after the declaration of independence. I'm not quite convinced by your Israel example. – gerrit Dec 13 '17 at 19:26

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