Can tiny territories expect to survive upon independence?


There are several French territories which request1 independence: Corsica, New Caledonia, Guiana (among others).

Putting aside the actual backing of the majority of local population (which these independentist movements usually do not have), can they survive economically on their own?

I was under the impression that they could not. On the other hand Corsica is similar to Malta or Cyprus which do well. It also has ~3.6 MM EUR of subventions, vs. the ~3 MM EUR they pay back to France. So maybe.

New Caledonia on the other hand is dependent on continental France (16% of its GDP comes from subventions) so left on its own it would probably sink into an economic disaster.

Are there some general rules on sustainability of such ex-colonial small territories, if they gain independence?

1 at least some vocal groups in these territories


Posted 2018-05-07T09:44:13.233

Reputation: 1 418



Small nations can be successful after independence.

In the Mediterranean region, Malta is generally a successful nation. Cyprus has a unresolved issue with the Turkish North Cyprus, but one would not call Cyprus a "failed state".

Around the world, former British colonies have had various levels of success. St Kitts and Nevis, Bahamas, and Barbados have a higher income than Jamaica, despite Jamaica being larger, and all three are more successful than Haiti (at least economically)

In the Indian Ocean, Mauritius has a good per capita income and positive relations with its neighbours in Africa and Asia.

Extremely small countries seem to run into problems of mismanagement. As an extreme case, the history of Pitcairn shows what can happen. However international trade can allow even a country with a population of 50,000 (such as St Kitts) to survive and be successful. However good relationships with the larger neighbours are essential, and membership of regional organisations (such as the EU or CARICOM) are particularly valuable to small nations.

Your three examples: Corsica could easily be independent, especially if it were admitted to the EU on independence. French Guiana has the model of Guyana and Surinam next to it. There is no reason to suppose it could not survive. New Caledonia has the advantages of being an island nation, and consequently easy access to international trade. It isn't certain that these places would be better off independent, but there is not doubt that they could survive.

James K

Posted 2018-05-07T09:44:13.233

Reputation: 70 324

Concerning the last paragraph: it is far from obvious that a newly independent Corsica would be accepted in EU. Declarations of veto from Spain (for example) after the referendums in Scotland and Catalonia shows it is actually unlikely. – Taladris – 2018-11-04T07:00:35.697