Tuesday, August 29, 2006

100 Years of non-violent Government Changes

In the past 100 years, how many of the world's approximately 200 countries have either not had a violent overthrow of their government or have not been occupied by a foreign power?

The answer is only 8.

New Zealand
South Africa
United Kingdom
United States

You may think more countries belong on the list. But Mexico had its revolution in 1910 (not really ending until the 1920s, but the consitution was established in 1917), most of Europe was occupied by the Germans or Russians during World War II. Most of Africa was colonized until the 1960s. I wonder if South Africa really belongs on the list, as it was a nominal British colony after the Boer War (1899-1902), but Transvaal had home rule beginning in 1906, and the Orange Free State in 1907, and the Union of South Africa wasn't created until 1910 (when it became a self-governing dominion under the British crown). So if we move the start date to 1910, then South Africa joins the list, because although it had a racist government, it was never occupied by a foreign power since that date and it did not have a violent overthrow of its government when the transition to majority rule took place in 1994.

In any event, it's interesting, but probably coincidental, that of the 8 countries, 6 of them have their institutions and legal codes rooted in the British system (the exceptions being Sweden and Switzerland).

100 years is not a huge amount of time, and while it seems unlikely that in 100 years, there will be only 8 countries who haven't been occupied or haven't had a violent transition of power, things can change pretty quickly. I wonder if 100 years ago anyone thought only 8 countries would make it for 100 years without being occupied or having a violent overthrow.

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