The 4th of July is finally here, and you know what that means… it’s Abkhazia’s de facto Independence Day! That’s right, America, we’re not the only ones who celebrate independence. Other countries have national holidays to honor the day they became sovereign states too. So before you crack open that case of fireworks you bought in New Hampshire, GlobalPost is going to take you on a whirlwind tour through the national independence days of other lands.
Canada: Every year on July 1, Canada celebrates its independence from Great Britain in 1867 with the passage of the British North America Act. Canadians take this holiday seriously, and festivities usually include fireworks displays. The only part of the country that doesn’t let loose on July 1st is Quebec; although Canada Day is still a statutory holiday, denizens of Quebec celebrate their own national holiday, St. Jean Baptiste Day, on June 24th.
France: Known as Bastille Day, July 14 is France’s national independence holiday, marking the day in 1789 that the eponymous Paris prison was stormed and the French Revolution began. In some respects, Bastille Day is very similar to America’s Independence Day: there are fireworks and parades, it’s a celebration of revolutionary origins, and everyone gets to show off their red, white, and blue.
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Indonesia: On August 17, Indonesia celebrates its independence from the Netherlands. During World War II, the Dutch were expelled from Indonesia by invading Japanese forces. After the defeat of Japan, the Netherlands sought to reclaim control, but it was too late: Indonesia had declared its independence. After a bloody war that lasted four years, the Netherlands conceded and Indonesia was born.
Sudan: On January 1, 1956, Sudan was granted independence, having previously been ruled by Egypt with the help of British occupying forces. Unfortunately, there has been little peace in Sudan, which has been ravaged by civil war and ethnic conflict since then. On July 9, 2011, South Sudan split from the north and became an independent state, although that hasn’t brought an end to tensions and violence.
Singapore: On August 9, the tiny island nation of Singapore observes its independence from Malaysia in 1965. Although the celebrations are quite festive—even including a fireworks display—gum chewing is still off limits.
Poland: The tragedy of Poland has always been geography: it’s unfortunate enough to find itself wedged between Germany and Russia. Throughout its long history, Poland as an official state has jumped in and out of existence, having been partitioned and swallowed up a great many times. But in 1918, Poland was reborn again, after having been divvied up by Austria, Prussia, and Russia 123 years earlier. So, every year on November 11 Poland celebrates its reassembly and independence.
Philippines: June 12 is celebrated as Independence Day in the Philippines to commemorate its declaration of independence from Spain in 1898. However, this declaration was not recognized by Spain or the United States, which occupied the Philippine archipelago until 1946, when on July 4 the Treat of Manila was passing, granting full independence. July 4 was chosen intentionally by the United States so that the two states would celebrate the same Independence Day. But in 1964, President Diosdado Macapagal officially changed the national holiday to June 12.
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