There are often calls for one portion of a state to secede and form their own state. For example, the recent Scottish referendum on seceding from the UK. But suppose it went the other way around, and England, Wales, and N. Ireland decided they didn't want to be unified with Scotland any more. But has there ever been a case where a state has unilaterally ejected a portion of itself? Are there any legal structures to handle such a situation?

  • 2
    Would decolonization count?
    – user45891
    Sep 20, 2014 at 16:14
  • 1
    Only if the colony didn't actively want to be decolonized. Sep 22, 2014 at 17:26
  • @StephenCollings - I'd suggest emphasizing that in the question. Also, would you consider Israel giving the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank to the PLO as qualifying for this? They were technically "occupied territories" at the time, I believe.
    – Bobson
    Sep 22, 2014 at 18:01
  • 1
    @AzorAhai-him- the question you asked is more recent, so if they are duplicates, that one should be closed, not this one, Aug 31, 2021 at 22:52
  • 1
    @EkadhSingh-ReinstateMonica That is not a duplicate rule. The other question has more upvotes and answers and it's standard across the network to make the higher-upvoted question the target. Aug 31, 2021 at 23:05

6 Answers 6


Yes, there have been. Singapore is one prominent example.

The history of the Republic of Singapore began when Singapore gained its independence and became a republic following an ejection from Malaysia on 9 August 1965. (Wikipedia)

The merger in 1963 led to numerous economical and political difficulties and also racial tensions amongst Malay and Chinese communities, so the Malaysian PM voluntarily decided to expel Singapore from the united state.

The rest of the story is well-known: Lee Kuan Yew led the country to its prosperity which has been called Singapore Miracle.

  • 1
    I had been meaning to post this for days. +1
    – Publius
    Sep 24, 2014 at 10:09

While not an exact match, the example of Puerto Rico may satisfy a general idea of what you are looking for. Puerto Rico became a colony of the United States in 1898. Unlike the other colonies- the Phillipines and Cuba, Puerto Rico has never voted for independence. While there has been an independence movement there (one guy killed Truman's bodyguard, another planted a bomb in the U.S. Capitol), every time it has come to a referendum, the colony refuses to leave. Indeed, recently it even voted to become a state.

The problem is that the mainland United States Congress, which gets to decide the matter, however, has not acted on the petition. The argument will probably be made that Puerto Rico wasn't in the union - but the mainland refusing to let it join may hit the spirit of the question. if not the letter.

In general, absorbing Puerto Rico as a state would probably be a net loss to the federal government, but Puerto Rico knows it has much to gain in the deal. There have been attempts in the COngress and on the mainland to get Puerto Rico to go its own way, but it stubbornly wont.

  • 1
    The referendum was nonbinding and poorly worded.
    – Colin
    Jun 3, 2017 at 2:56
  • @Colin: Puerto Rico is not empowered to hold a binding referendum, and as for "poorly worded," that's both subjective and depends which referendum you mean. For example, the 2020 referendum (which you could not have been aware of when you wrote that comment) was completely unambiguous, but only offered a binary yes/no choice for statehood and may have alienated some of the pro-commonwealth voters.
    – Kevin
    Sep 1, 2021 at 22:12

Maybe this counts. Some of the former republics of the USSR did not want the dissolution of the USSR. In the most of the republics the 1991 referendum of whether to preserve the USSR gave results in support of the USSR preservation, additionally the leadership in some of the republics(Kazakhstan and Central Asia) did not want the dissolution either.

The dissolution was mostly pushed forward by the leadership of Russia, Belorussia and Ukraine, who concluded the agreement without participation of other republics.


Britain returned Hong Kong to China against the will of the local people under a treaty that Hong Kong had no say in.

Japan also ruled that several islands were part of Taiwan and not Japan back when Japan occupied the entire region before WWII.

  • "Japan also ruled that several islands were part of Taiwan and not Japan back when Japan occupied the entire region before WWII." But as you say, Taiwan was ruled by Japan. That was simply saying the islands belonged to one part of the Japanese Empire rather than another part of the Japanese Empire. Rather like when the Soviet Union gave Crimea to Ukraine. It wasn't expelling territory, just moving it from one administrative region to another.
    – Readin
    Sep 2, 2021 at 3:04
  • 1
    "Britain returned Hong Kong to China against the will of the local people under a treaty that Hong Kong had no say in." The question asks about "unilaterally". Britain returned HK under pressure from China in a situation where HK was militarily indefensible. That is to say, Britain really didn't have a choice in the matter. Britain went into the negotiations hoping to persuade China to allow the whole area (HK, lower Kowloon, upper Kowloon, and the new territories) to remain in British hands even though HK didn't need to be returned. China said "no", and HK is not defendable.
    – Readin
    Sep 2, 2021 at 3:08
  • 1
    It was unilateral in that the people of Hong Kong played no part. there was no multi party agreement between Hong Kong and Britain.
    – user38958
    Sep 2, 2021 at 5:53
  • 1
    There was a multi-party agreement between China and Britain. This wasn't so much Britain expelling HK as China taking HK. There are many such examples of one country taking part of another country by making an offer that can't be refused. Perhaps a better example of expulsion would be Macau. I could just be ignorant of the facts around the Macao handover, but what I have read of the event is that Portugal just wanted to be rid of the territory; there were no treaty obligations involved and no perceived threats.
    – Readin
    Sep 3, 2021 at 3:37
  • The op asked about states ejecting portions of themselves against that parts will, and Hong Kong didn't want to go. It wasn't party to negotiations, so it meets the criteria stated.
    – user38958
    Sep 3, 2021 at 5:34

The United Kingdom once encompassed the Dominion of Canada (until 1867) and Australia. Both were peacefully cut out from the main, with as much push from the home countries as from the territories.

  • 1
    The question assumed that the pushee wasn't happy with being pushed out ("unilaterally "); otherwise the question becomes too trivial (USSR respublics, decolonization - including tons of examples from British Empire) - see OP's comment clarifying this from 5 hours ago.
    – user4012
    Sep 22, 2014 at 23:18
  • 1
    I'm leaving this around as an original answer, but I agree the clarifying comment doesn't really satisfy the OP. Sep 23, 2014 at 2:29

The transfer of Crimea in 1954 was an administrative action of the Supreme Soviet which transferred the government of most of the Crimean peninsula from the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic to the Ukrainian SSR.

  • 2
    RSFSR was not a sovereign state in any way, shape or form. As such, this example doesn't fit
    – user4012
    Sep 29, 2014 at 15:14
  • 1
    @DVK The RSFSR and the Ukraine were allegedly sovereign for purposes of UN representation. In 1991, the technical sovereignties of the SSRs were put to the test -- and the Soviet Union fell. But as you point out, the Supreme Soviet was a USSR institution, not an RSFSR institution. So you are correct that this example does not fit a state expelling a piece of itself.
    – Jasper
    Oct 5, 2014 at 3:13

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .