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"It is a general truth of this world that anything long divided will surely unite, and anything long united will surely divide."

In Alternate History and Speculative Fiction (especially the kind that takes place 20 Minutes into the Future), authors like to have fun by turning big countries into lots of smaller ones. May be justified by a war, a large-scale catastrophe, or simply a successful secessionist movement. Often happens with the United States of America, resulting in the Divided States of America, but other large countries such as China or Russia are also considered fair game.

May result in a Vestigial Empire, if the former country continues to exist in a much smaller capacity. Contrast Space-Filling Empire, which is about filling the map with large countries so as not to bother with pesky borders. Also see United Europe, Expanded States of America, and Middle Eastern Coalition as other examples of counterparts, where different countries link up or expand into huge regional or continental polities.


Historical Truth in Television.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the original alternate history of Eureka Seven AO, Okinawa Prefecture has recently seceded from Japan with help from China. Saudi Arabia also has become some number of nations one of which is the Republic of Faisal Arabia.
  • China is further divided in Full Metal Panic! where it is now the People's Liberation Committee (North China) and the Democratic Chinese Alliance (South China). Makes more sense than many, given the long-standing (cultural) north/south divide along the Yangtze.
  • Ghost in the Shell has a Balkanized USA. After the end of the nuclear World War III, the United States was divided into three countries: the American Empire, the Russo-American Alliance ("Ameri-Soviet Union" in the manga published before the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union), and the United States of America.
  • In Heavy Object, the world became a fully shattered mosaic of small territories, each belonging to one of the four big factions: Legitimacy Kingdom(where bloodline and honor are everything), the Information Alliance(where inexactitudes and false news are evil and weapons), the Capitalist Corporations(where charity is a crime) and the Faith Organization(a patchwork of every religions invented). You can barely travel more than a couple hundred miles in any given direction before running into a border.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Steel Ball Run, the Kingdom of Naples is a separate nation from the Kingdom of Italy in 1890.
  • In The Place Promised in Our Early Days, Japan was divided after World War II, with the southern half being administered by the United States and Hokkaido (later renamed Ezo) under control of the "Union." Both nations remain separate by 1999.
  • In A Certain Magical Index, there exists the Elizalina Alliance of Independent Nations, an international alliance that consists of countries that broke away from Russia, including the nation of Elizalina itself.

    Comic Books 
  • In Judge Dredd, America, Russia, China, and Australia all consist of independent Mega-Cities and massive radioactive deserts. Mega-Cities that used to belong to former states do provide aid to each other. For instance, Mega-City One, Mega-City Two, and Texas City are in an unofficial alliance, but not the degree where either of the other two would intervene on MC-1's behalf during the Apocalypse War.
  • Titanium Rain has a neo-Imperial China and the Sino Union, made of China's peripheral territories minus Tibet.
  • Following the Divided We Fall arc in Ultimate Marvel, USA became splintered into several smaller factions, complete with Texas declaring its independence.

    Fan Works 
  • Code Geass Megiddo: Basically what happened to the Soviet Union after the EU conquered it in the titular Soviet War. As a result of (Western) European weariness toward further Russian aggression, the former USSR was broken up into much smaller statesnote  and annexed, such that everything past the Urals is now referred to as Far Eastern Europe (or just the Far East).
  • The Wanderer of the North: This was the fate of Ancient Equestria after its old capital was razed and the last Equestrian King slain by the invaders and monsters. The result was that Ancient Equestria was destroyed in the North and fractured into a smaller kingdom and several principalities in the South.
  • In-universe example in RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse. Whereas in the Celestiaverse Celestia allowed a bloodthirsty warlord to unite the Griffon Kingdoms into an Empire that is still one of the biggest threats to Equestria, Princess Luna was a bit more proactive in her continuity, and signed mutual defense pacts with several of the more reasonable Kingdoms. Equestria's resources were more than sufficient to prevent the warlord's conquest, and the Kingdoms remain divided still.
  • In The Rainsverse, the fall of Roam has split Equestria into four major successor nations (the Heartlands under King Sombra and Queen Chrysalis, the Lunar Kingdom under Princess Luna, the Solar Prelate under Princess Celestia, and the Crystal Empire under Princess Candence), and an unknown number of minor polities.

  • In John Birmingham's After America, although it doesn't go into details, it's mentioned that France has become divided after the French Intifada in the previous book, Without Warning. Also, there are several cities in Germany called "sharia towns", particularly Neu Koln, that have become independent entities de facto, if not de jure.
  • In Tom Kratman's Caliphate, it's implied that the Indian subcontinent broke into many parts.
  • In S. M. Stirling's Emberverse, a sudden collapse of functioning technology has balkanized most of the world (though in some cases, nations have been re-expanding), though we really only see the former USA. An article on the author's website, as well as two short stories released, talk about how Great Britain survives due to its offshore islands where the population can wait until everyone on the mainland kills one another or die via natural means. It then rapidly expands to the point where in 2050 it controls all of Britain, Iceland (nominally) France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, a large Part of North Africa and the East Coast of the USA, as well as being the de facto rulers of New Zealand and what remains of Australia. It appears that instead of Balkanising, Europe simply falls apart and then a few states re-expand. Russia does dissolve into lots of rural kingdoms, though.
  • One of the main characters in Charles Stross's The Eschaton Series is from The People's Republic of West Yorkshire, and claims that there are over 1,500 countries on Earth, although it's clear that Earthers have outgrown the concept of nation states, and just keep the names for sentimental reasons.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's Friday. In addition to Divided States of America, also has a divided Canada, and more than 400 UN member states. It mentions "Great Russia", indicating that the Soviet Union broke up (the book came out in 1982, before it happened in Real Life). There's also a mention of Prussia, but whether or not it's the united Germany is unclear.
  • In Larry Niven's The Goliath Stone Western Australia is now the nation of Westralia. During the book China breaks into civil war and by the end there are five different "People's Republics", the only one named being Kowloon-Hong Kong plus Tibet.
  • In Orson Scott Card's Hidden Empire this happens to Nigeria after an American invasion with a Muslim north and several nations forming along tribal lines in the Christian south. This is presented as an ultimately positive thing, as most current African borders exist because of European powers dividing the continent with no concern for existing tribal, cultural or religious ties.
  • In the Jacek Piekera's Alternate History The Inquisitor Cycle series, this is what happens to the Arabian Peninsula; in this timeline, Christianity becomes even more militaristic due to Jesus Christ being a warlord that violently took over the Roman Empire, and Islam never came into existence because Muhammad was killed by a Christian patrol while fleeing from Mecca to Medina. As a result, the Arabian Peninsula is a fractured region between several polytheistic tribes which serves as a buffer state between Rome and the Persian Empire.
  • Mentioned in Ian Douglas's Luna Marine, where the UN is desperately trying to hold together and force the rest of the world into One World Order. Unfortunately for them, the current tendency in the world is the opposite — splitting countries into smaller political entities. Interestingly, one of the reasons for the US-UN war is the attempt by the UN to force just such a thing in the US with the creation of Aztlan from the Southwestern (i.e. Hispanic-dominated) states.
  • In John Barnes Mother of Storms Siberia has become independent of Russia. Ironically it in turn is trying to absorb an independent Alaska. And while Alaska is the only US state to secede Canada is broken into at least Pacificanada, Ontario and Quebec. What happened to the Maritime provinces or the provinces between British Columbia and Ontario is not mentioned. By the end of the book China has broken into a dozen or more states controlled by warlords.
  • In Ian McDonald's River of Gods and Cyberiad, an anthology set in the same universe, India has broken up into seven different nations.
  • The Empire of Shattered Continent lost its Emperor in 1995, and most of his direct blood relatives died in the resulting scramble to grab the big chair. As of 2017 all the sub-kingdoms pay lip service to the still-vacant throne while doing effectively whatever they want, up to and including waging small wars on each other and handling their own foreign agendas outside the Empire.
  • Ken MacLeod's The Star Fraction (first in the Fall Revolution tetralogy) has a Balkanised UK, and mentions the UN having over two thousand national flags flying outside.
  • Happened in Star Wars Legends. After the Battle of Endor, the Galactic Empire began to fracture apart with the deaths of its two top leaders and elite military command staff. Over the course of nearly a decade, various Imperial Admirals began taking sectors for themselves and became warlords over sizable chunks of the galaxy, though over the course of the EU many of them were either conquered by the New Republic or absorbed into the Imperial Remnant, what remained of the centralized, original Galactic Empire.
  • Several examples in Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series, for example The Socialist Republic of Wales. Taken further in The Last Dragonslayer, in which basically every UK county becomes an independent nation.
  • Harry Turtledove's Timeline-191 series is based off of the premise that the south won the American Civil War and the Confederate States of America became its own independent country. There are also a number of failed, unrecognized nations created by separatist rebels throughout the series, specifically the nation of Deseret in Utah and the various socialist republics founded by blacks in the CSA.
  • In the backstory for Tolkien's Legendarium, the bulk of the Eriador region was under the aegis of the Dunedain kingdom of Arnor. Its strength depleted as a result of several major disasters during the War of the Last Alliance against Sauron, and it eventually split into three smaller kingdoms: Arthedain, Cardolan, and Rhudaur. These kingdoms themselves came apart following brutal wars against the Witch-King of Angmar. By the time period of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Eriador is largely a no-man's land save for a few small isolated polities such as the Shire, Rivendell, and the Grey Havens.
  • Vivere Militare Est, an Alternate History where the end of World War II was co-opted by the introduction of weaponized preternatural horrors by (who else?) Nazi Germany, has several examples:
    • Italy is split between North (Fascist-leaning rogue state) and South (member in good standing of the PCRA) Italy;
    • Yugoslavia was divided after WWII, between Nazi Germany-aligned Croatia and USSR-aligned Serbia (instead of imploding in the 90's);
    • Lebanon (between the Israel-occupied South and German-backed North), Jordan (split between a number of opposing factions due to Occult groups, Israel, and the government's inability to address either), Syria (whose southern tip seceded as Israel-backed Souadia — notice a pattern?);
    • Malaya and Kalimantan (North Borneo) never united to form Malaysia, though Brunei inverts the trope by having united with Kalimantan;
    • North and South Vietnam, whose war ended in a draw this time;
    • And the biggest case would be China; not only is it divided between the Communist North and the Nationalist South, but several outlying regions were carved off: Sinkiang (a Soviet puppet), Manchukuo (a Japanese puppet), Taiwan (now part of Japan proper), and Tibet (never annexed due to Communists and Nationalists being more preoccupied by each other to bother).
    • And then there are the Middle African and Indian Containment Zones, both of which have collapsed into anarchy and are rife with warlords, micro-states, roving ethnic militias and cults, and all kinds of preternatural activity.
  • In Vladimir Vasilyev's Wolfish Nature, Siberia has seceded from Russia. Not because of any ideological or political differences but because of the inevitable corruption of territories far away from the capital (the Siberian capital is established in Krasnoyarsk, much closer than Moscow). The two countries still maintain cordial relations and open borders. Alaska has likewise seceded from the US, although it's barely mentioned, and the reasons for the secession are unknown but likely the same. Canada is also mentioned to have split, although no official names of the two countries are mentioned (they're always referred to as "both Canadas"). There are also inverted examples, such as United Europe, Baltica (all the Baltic nations), Turan (an amalgamation of Turkey and Iran), and Sinojapan. There's also a Middle Eastern Coalition, but it's more like what EU is in Real Life than a government. It's a lot easier to find common ground when there are no pesky wars, atrocities, and genocides to mar relations, as there have been no wars on Earth for centuries. Ever since the Bio-Correction has removed the "wolf" gene from everyone.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Happened multiple times to the Centauri Republic in the backstory of Babylon 5: after touching its greatest extent in the 1999-2047 period, the Centauri suffered two reductions of their empire. By the time of the series, about three quarters of the worlds they used to control at one point or the other (both conquered and colonies) are lost, with the largest chunk forming the hostile Narn Regime, others having joined other independents to form the League of Non-Aligned Worlds, others still independent and neutral, and Vega (whose only value for the Centauri was that it linked their core regions to the distant Denova) having been passed to Earth Alliance when Denova successfully rebelled.
  • Game of Thrones: This came into play as part of the final outcome of the series. After the rise of Westeros' new monarch, Bran Stark, aka Bran the Broken, his sister Sansa Stark declares that the North no longer wishes to remain a part of the Seven Kingdoms, and wants to form it's own nation. The new sovereign readily agrees, in light of all that region has already sacrificed for the sake of the other lands of Westeros. Having successfully pled for independence, Sansa, last and only Stark to remain in Winterfell, is recognized by becoming the region's new leader, The Queen in the North.
  • In the universe of Kamen Rider Build, Japan was split in three in 2007 when Pandora's Box, an artifact found on Mars, caused gigantic walls to erupt from the Earth. The three pieces ended up becoming their own nations: Touto (which adheres to traditional pacifism), Hokuto (which focuses on social welfare), and Seito (who focuses on economic recovery). The reason they haven't tried to reunify is because Pandora's Box released some kind of energy that altered the minds of everyone nearby, which included the three nations' future leaders, causing them to become more aggressive and paranoid; eventually it turns out that all three are secretly developing monsters and Kamen Riders to use as weapons for their attempts to invade each other.
  • Revolution: In Episode 5, there is a map that shows that both Canada and Mexico have lost territory to the various nations that that make up what used to be the United States. For instance the California Commonwealth extends into both British Columbia and Baja California and the Monroe Republic not only comprises the northeastern quarter of the former US but also Quebec south of the St. Lawrence and the Maritime Provinces. There are no detail on the rest of those nations but presumably they've also broken up.
  • Servant of the People: In Season 3, Ukraine collapses into 28 separate states. The President's task is to try to put the country back together without repeating past mistakes.
  • Star Trek: Picard: Starfleet abandoned the evacuation of the Romulan population from their doomed homeworld because many species within The Federation were not happy about being forced to provide aid to their once mortal arch-foe and threatened to secede. The Admiralty cut their losses and recalled the Fleet after the Mars incident gave them ample justification.

  • It Could Happen Here: This is the ultimate fate of the United States in the narration segments of the podcast, where after a very chaotic and asymmetric Second American Civil War, the US is swept into squabbling broken states, some doing better than others, but all collectively worse off than they were before the war.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Free Worlds League in BattleTech had always been a unstable conglomerate of various kingdoms, but the effects of the Word of Blake Jihad, the realization that their leader was an impostor and that their real leader was a genocidal psychopath — resulted in the FWL shattering into a dozen feuding states.
    • The backstory also has the original Star League, which was shattered into the Successor Houses by the First Succession War.
  • The Cyberpunk Tabletop series heavily features a Divided States of America with California notably experiencing Balkanization in the form dividing in half and the main setting of Night City, being in the North.
  • One popular map for Diplomacy — particularly for email play — is a world map set in 1861 and including the Confederacy as a playable power. Also, many countries are divided into subunits for play purposes, so this is easy to do.
  • Eberron had the kingdom of Galifar, which split into five nations due to a succession dispute. This was followed by an inconclusive war lasting 102 years, during which other lands seceded from the core five.
  • GURPS Transhuman Space has a few examples, but probably the most balkanized country is Canada. The core of the country is still called Canada, and the rest are Quebec, Newfoundland, the Maritimes (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island), Nunavut, the ABC Republic (Alberta and British Columbia), and the Free City of Montreal. Quebec, Newfoundland and the Maritimes are members of The European Union; ABC is a member of the Pacific Rim Alliance.
  • Rifts, by comparison, partially avoids this only because most places are too wild to become nations, or the ones that do forms tend to quickly fill the old borders and then some. One notable exception being Japan, which is split into a High-tech time-displaced remnant of Pre-Rifts Japan, an anti-technology Empire of Samurai (who ironically, actually like the previously-mentioned Republic), a much meaner High-tech (with a smattering of Magitek) Shogunate, a kingdom of DemonsOni, and a few scattered nations besides.
  • Risk. This is really only done to provide game balance, as there isn't really much backstory to a simple board game. The extent of Balkanization is rather vague in Risk 2210 A.D., where one might believe every single individual territory to be a separate country (which would also mean that several places are inversions, such as most of South America and Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia). The two Koreas are also reunited.
  • Shadowrun in addition to suffering from the Divided States of America (and Canada) has a large amount of Balkanization occurring, mostly as the result of famine, disease, Post-Modern Magik favoring rebellious oppressed groups, and other such things. This allows Megacorporations to assume more power than national entities.
    • The rest of the world isn't much different: China has split into many smaller countries, Russia is split in half, and Africa is full of tribal "nations" no more then a few miles across.
      • The Alliance of German States is more downplayed. The AGS is still a cohesive polity and lays claim to all the territory of modern-day Germany, but the central government of the AGS is significantly weaker than that of the Bundesrepublik that preceded it, and acts more as a mediator in conflicts between the states and co-ordinator of the armed forces than a central government.
    • Despite all of this, some regions do invert the trend: Northern Latin America is mostly split between Amazonia (Brazil plus the Guianas, Venezuela and most of Colombia) and Aztlan (Mexico plus continental Central America and the rest of Colombia, plus Southwest Texas, and North Africa and the Middle East has The Algerian Theocracy (which includes Tunisia and most of Libya), Egypt (which absorbed the more Arab/Muslim parts of Sudan), The Saud Caliphate (which covers the whole Arabian peninsula, Kuwait and Jordan) and Iran/the Persian Empire (which absorbed Armenia, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, and all the Central Asian republics save Kazakhstan).
  • The Eldar Empire of Warhammer 40,000 spanned the entire galaxy before the heart of the empire was swallowed by the Eye of Terror. Some Eldar crewed independent, planet-sized spaceships called Craftworlds, some depraved individuals fled into the settlements in the Webway and formed a horrifying civilisation built on slavery and torture, some fled to worlds on the edges of the empire and formed Luddite colonies, and some simply took to roaming the galaxy as bands of raiders and pirates. The massive cultural differences which have emerged between these divergent Eldar factions over the millennia mean the Eldar race will probably never again be united as they used to be.
    • To a lesser extent but greater damage, the Imperium of Man. The predating empire was shattered when a galaxy-wide warp storm appeared out of nowhere and stayed for centuries, the galactic equivalent of every mile of ocean developing century-lasting hurricanes, preventing communication or trade between planets. Not helping matters was the Chaos plot to give the gift of psychics to unsuspecting humans, then laugh as they inadvertently summoned demonic invasions unless they were unfairly persecuted by witch hunts, thereby culling most forward-thinking technologically-advanced healthily-tolerant planets (with the only major exceptions being the planets that became HIGHLY susceptible to chaos when they put these psykers in charge and formed chaos-magic academies). This obliterated Earth, as it had become so polluted that it imported everything and went the path of Mad Max on steroids. Then the Emperor, an immortal Physical God (but one who DOESN'T consider himself a god due to being a mad science experiment gone right) built the first Space Marines, conquered and restored Earth, developed technology and starfleets, and waited for the storm to finally end (which was actually a bad thing because it heralded the birth of the new chaos goddess of lust). Then the Imperium began a great crusade, dominating millions of worlds and generally uniting most of humanity in the galaxy. And then, the chaos gods utterly won the Horus Heresy, shattering the Empire by dividing its fleets, crippling its Emperor, and indoctrinating all of humanity into a gods-worshiping mega-cult. The Imperium loses dozens of resource-rich planets every day to Chaos, Rebels, Tau, Genestealers, raving bands of Orks and Eldar and Necrons and whatever Games Workshop can come up with, and mostly its own Belief Makes You Stupid Knight Templar genocides.

    Video Games 
  • In Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, the fictional country of Cohdopia split for unspecified reasons into Allebahst and Babahl and was later reunited. As well, the Republic of Zheng Fa seems to be a splinter country from China.
  • Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown: Following the climax of the second act, with the fall of its capital Farbanti being the last news out of Erusea before the entire continent loses all long-range communication, the former Hegemonic Empire shatters. At least one long-defunct kingdom declares its independence, and many regions become de facto micronations with the stationed military being the only authority able to do anything. It's heavily implied that even if Erusea continues to exist after the war, it'll only ever be a shadow of its former self.
  • In After the End: A Post-Apocalyptic America, the United States of America is now no more than a distant memory. Not even many of the original states we'd recognise today still exist. Instead, a number of kingdoms and mini-nations have sprung up with their own distinct cultures and religions. The same is true for Mexico and Canada. Interestingly, the inverse is true for Central America and the Caribbean, as the islands have merged together into new, unified empires (though Word Of God states that the mod is being set up so that this happens to those Caribbean nations during most games, once the Empress dies and the kin-slaying crown prince takes the throne). Also inverted for the United Kingdom, which over the centuries seems to have revived the British Empire and will be making an attempt to reclaim their colonies in North America.
    • It has also been long enough since the End that there have been time for empires to rise, stand mighty, and then fall. The Mahonics' New England at its height ruled from Buffalo to New Brunswick, but after they lost Hudsonia (more or less New York State sans New York City) their prestige was tarnished, and the defeat of a later attempted reconquest led to a series of wars and dynastic conflicts that by the start date has reduced the Mahonics' domain to the Boston metro area. The Empire of California took a different tack — technically, the Empire still exists as a vast domain, but in practice the Emperor is a figurehead barely ruling Sacramento, with the rest of the Empire split into warring lords that only nominally recognize the authority of the Emperor.
  • The air-buccaneering game Crimson Skies — based on a tabletop game whose source books go into greater detail than the videogames — FASA (who created the tabletop game, as well as Battletech and Shadowrun) seem to love this trope — is set in a balkanized 1930s USA made up of several independent nations and micronations, as well as significant protectorates of European powers (mainly Britain and Germany). Russia has also split in the setting between White Russia and Red Russia who are both primarily focused on their own cold war they're having with each other.
  • We can't mention Paradox Interactive games without mentioning Crusader Kings — just as in the real Middle Ages, large kingdoms have an alarming tendency to fragment into independent states if the dukes and counts don't consider the king a worthy ruler. This sometimes happens peacefully, but sometimes not.
    • Most major nations in Europa Universalis can be broken up into smaller constituent provinces. Furthermore as the game goes on, almost any nation that becomes a major power will inevitably wind up the owner of cores that can be released as independent nations as a result of wars or rebellions. For example, if you're playing as the English then this is your prime strategy for dealing with France, as the massive blue blob is comprised of dozens of releasable mini-countries that make up 75% of its vast territory; with strong allies (like Castile, Aragon, Austria or even Burgundy), good command and a little luck, you can reduce France to basically just Paris and the surrounding land, making them ripe for conquest or at least rendering them a non-factor in your empire-building elsewhere. Other frequent victims of this include the Mongols, the Timurids, the Ottomans, and Ming China.
  • Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl has the Canadian province of Ontario as an independent kingdom. The rest of North America, and presumably the world, is in a similar state, Ontario is just the only one still going by its original name.
  • A slow-burn version happens in the Fallout verse. After the bombs fell, the survivors reverted to tribalism and independent cities, but by the time of New Vegas several larger powers have begun to emerge across the former U.S.: the New California Republic has spread across the western area (California, Nevada, Oregon), while Caesar's Legion has conquered the southwest (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico). In the midst of their clash at the Hoover Dam, Mr. House wants to establish the Mojave as its own state free of them both. Meanwhile, on the East Coast, a group calling themselves the Minutemen are working to unify the numerous settlements around the Boston area.
  • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, the continent of Fódlan was once completely dominated by the Empire of Adrestia. After approximately 750 years, a rebellion in the north led to the creation of the Kingdom of Faerghus, and then a scant 50 years later, Adrestia further balkanized when the eastern Leicester region also seceded, forming the Leicester Alliance. For another 50 years, Leicester found itself being invaded and annexed by Faerghus until they were able to seize the opportunity to kick the invaders out and become a true independent nation. The end of each route of the game sees the continent reunited once more under the banner of whichever nation Byleth chooses to side with.
  • In mobile game Galimulator empires slowly fracture into smaller empires as time passes.
  • Global Domination, a game based on the computer game James Bond plays in Never Say Never Again, splits Australia in two and Russia, the USA, China and Canada in several pieces, more for gameplay reasons than anything else. Many smaller nations are swept up into bigger ones for the same reasons.
  • Homeworld: Happened to the Taiidani Imperium after the events of the first game, courtesy of the Succession Crisis and power vacuum created by the death of the Emperor. Various factions tried to seize control of the empire by force, while others chose to carve out their own smaller fiefdoms, and by the time the dust had settled the newly-founded Taiidani Republic was a quarter the size of its predecessor. Several large chunks of the rest are ruled by "Imperial loyalist" factions with ambitions to restore the old empire under one banner once more, but attempts to pool their resources and mount a joint attack are hamstrung by the fact that few of the leaders of said factions are interested in any plan whose end-goal isn't to put them on the throne. One thing they can mostly agree on is their grudge against the Hiigarans, setting up the plot of Homeworld: Cataclysm.
  • Knights of Honor seems to start out this way, because the starting point is the Early Middle Ages, and Europe is very fractionated at this time. As playing time progresses the nations grow ever larger, however political unrest, the death of a ruler or religious revolts can result in entire nations fractionating into independent provinces.
  • In Mace: The Dark Age, this happens all over Europe and the Middle-East due to Christianity and Islam never being founded to unify their countries, leaving them fragmented between countless tribes and pagan faiths. This is enforced by the Covenant of the Seven, who are using Divide and Conquer to leave them weakened to their control.
  • Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake has Zanzibarland, which was one of the many splinter countries of the former Soviet Union (keep in mind that this game was released before the actual fall of the Soviet Union).
    • This is the vision of the villain in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain; by selling accessible nuclear programs to every nation and extremist group and disrupting global communications with a bioweapon that kills based on the languages its victims speak, the whole world would be balkanized. While this would end every oppressive empire in the world, they would be replaced with hundreds of cult-driven states even more divided than during the feudal eras, all similar due to their dependence on nuclear deterrence and violence through Metal Gears, yet incapable of unifying or even temporarily cooperating without destroying themselves from the vocal cord parasite plague or getting nuked by their neighbors.
  • In Shattered Union Washington DC was destroyed by a terrorist attack and the states divided into 6 factions with the European Union occupying the remains of DC, Hawaii staying neutral, and Alaska being invaded by Russia.
  • Singularity: In one ending, assassinating the dictator of the formerly world-conquering USSR and destroying the only means of researching the unobtainium for time travel causes the nation to utterly shatter into tiny city-states that make all its previous balkanizations combined look like a haircut.
  • Star Trek Online: After the Romulan Star Empire had its heart cut out by the destruction of Romulus and Remus in the Hobus System supernova (see Star Trek (2009)) the rest of the Empire fragmented into at least three factions. The current Romulan Star Empire is a military dictatorship led by Empress Sela and the Tal Shiar, while the Romulan Republic, the faction for Romulan player characters, is a democratic alliance of Romulans and Remans who want peace. There's also a Reman resistance movement that is part Space Pirate, part La Résistance, seeking to liberate their species from Romulan rule no matter the cost; they're allies of the Republic.
    • After the events of 'Romulan Mystery' (a series of missions shared between all three player factions), it is indicated that the Star Empire is fragmenting again in the absence of Sela and with the Tal Shiar having suffered severe losses, including their leader. No detail on the new fragmentation has yet been provided in-game, as the only one to even talk about this third collapse of the Empire is the leader of the Reman Resistance, and he only mentions it when it has just begun. Word Of God has indicated that as of the current 'now' of the game, the Star Empire has been reduced to a handful of hold-out colonies... which means this trope is being reversed, as the Romulan Republic is now firmly established as the dominant power in Romulan space.
  • Stellaris also does this. If an empire is having a rough time with its factions and internal happiness, some of them will start rebelling, and while it can probably bring them back under control given time, too many of them and the empire risks dissolution. There are also ways to weaponise the process yourself: a Feudal Society can create independent vassal empires that, unlike non-Feudal vassal states, retain the ability to expand and colonise, meaning you can create a new state to deal with colonisation on one flank, letting you focus on the other, and then reintegrate it later.
  • The backstory of Strike Commander describes how every superpower in the world has disintegrated into its component states, including (but not limited to) the Divided States of America. Fighting then breaks out among these new countries almost immediately, while the remnants of the original superpower governments struggle to reconquer their old territories.
  • Supreme Ruler 2020 has done this with pretty much the entire world (though some countries are slightly bigger, such as Belgium and Luxembourg forming one country).
  • Victoria: An Empire Under The Sun, Hearts of Iron, and Europa Universalis all gives plenty of opportunities to do this. (all of them feature various variations of Divided States of America for instance).
    • On the topic of Hearts of Iron, the popular mod Kaiserreich: Legacy of the Weltkrieg has this several instances of this:
      • Just like the main game, Divided States of America is in full effect, though now it's a 4-way civil war. The US itself under the military command of Douglas MacArthur, the syndicalist Combined Syndicates of America in the steel belt, the far-right American Union State in the south, and the remains of American democracy in the form of the Pacific States of America on the west coast. New England can even be annexed by the Dominion of Canada "for its protection".
      • Due to Germany winning the Weltkrieg, the Soviet Union never rose to power, so the the newly-formed Russian Republic had to cede territory to the German Empire. They took it well.
      • Italy broke into 5 states in 1919: The Papal States, The Republic of Italy, The Socialist Republic of Italy, the Kingdom of Two Sicilies and the Entente-allied Kingdom of Sardinia.
      • India has been split into 3 territories: The British-controlled Dominion of India, the syndicalist Bharatiya Commune, and the Princely Federation, which operates under the old Raj system.
      • China is still split into more than a dozen warlords.
      • Mittelafrika doesn't start out as this, but it's particularly infamous for lasting a short time and eventually collapsing into so many countries at once computers have been lagbombed to a full, if brief, halt, leaving a giant pile of twenty or more countries that try to kill each other from the word Go.
    • In the Equestria at War mod for Hearts of Iron IV, the nation of Equestria starts out as one giant united nation. It is possible however for a civil war to erupt through events, which splits the country in two between supporters of Princess Celestia and supporters of Princess Luna, with several regions breaking away and forming their own nations.
    • The New Order Last Days Of Europe mod for Hearts of Iron IV takes to extremes:
      • After a successful Operation Sea Lion, Great Britain is divided into England, Wales, Scotland, and a Nazi-occupied Cornwall.
      • The Soviet Union has shattered into dozens of warlords with most of them having a shot at re-unifying the country under every ideology in the game ... or collapsing back into yet more warlords.
      • The collaborationist Republic of China de jure controls all of China except for Japanese-controlled Manchukuo and Guangdong, but de facto only has authority over eastern China. The rest are independent warlords Still Wearing the Old Colors, Japanese fiefdoms, and rebels.
      • India is divided between the Republic of India and Azad Hind, both facing minority revolts.
      • The Iberian Union can collapse into more than a dozen factions, with some seeking independence like the Basques and Catalonia. Their African colonies also break away.
      • The decolonization of Nazi-ruled Central Africa can result in the emergence of dozens of new statelets, either through successful nation-building by the US or the complete and utter collapse of colonial authority.
    • It's worth noting that in many cases this is not just possible, but is actually a powerful in game strategy. In Europa Universalis, virtually any major power can be hamstrung this way. Annexing all of their territory would take multiple wars and a lot of time, while breaking off various parts into smaller nations is faster, easier and will hurt them more in the long run.

    Web Originals 

  • Parodied and taken to the illogical extreme in the timeline Leaves in the Wind, which records the Balkanization of Liechtenstein!
  • In CalBear's The Anglo/American – Nazi War several OTL nations are TTL divided:
    • Indonesia is coming into several states.
    • Per the treaty of Barcelona, Germany is to be forever divided in 15 authonomous regions, on pain of being nuked.
    • France's coastal regions, along with its colonial empire, are now separated from the former metropole.
    • Ukraine has being halved into West and East.
    • Russia is divided into a resurgent Russian Tsarist Republic, a vestigial Soviet Union located in Siberia and a Western Alaska in Eastern Siberia.
  • Capto Iugulum: Happens to Hungary, the United States, Kongo, the Franco-Burgundian Confederation (although it reunifies), Spain, and British South Africa over the course of the the NES.
  • The Chaos Timeline does this to North America Atlantis, and sometimes China, France and Russia. And even New Albion (New Zealand).
  • Decades of Darkness starts with the USA falling apart, and later France, Italy and Britain will meet the same fate after being defeated by Germany in the Great War.
  • For All Time has too many examples to list fully.
    • After World War II, Germany is divided into three states and Hokkaido becomes the Soviet-backed People's Republic of Japan.
    • Israel is strangled in its crib and the land is divided between Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt.
    • The Italian Civil War results in the independence of Sicily and Sardinia, while mainland Italy becomes a Communist state and eventually splits into north and south by the end of the 20th century.
    • Yugoslavia is carved up by its neighbors following the Soviet's nuking of Zagreb.
    • France loses Brittany, Corsica, the Saarland, and Saint Pierre and Miquelon. After General-turned-Emperor Jean-Bédel Bokassa dies, the country collapses into half a dozen states.
    • After an independence referendum in 1971, England secedes from the United Kingdom.
    • China and the Soviet Union both collapse after a series of nuclear conflicts in the 1970's.
    • Canada, Indonesia, and Turkey also break apart over the course of the timeline.
  • The Alternate History project Ill Bethisad has only Russia as the only real Space-Filling Empire. Both Brazil and China are broken up into smaller states and the USA are a looser union than in OTL. Here's a map.
  • The New Deal Coalition Retained timeline has a couple of examples:
    • The US-backed invasion of Cuba leads to the creation of the Federal Republic of Cuba (East Cuba) and the Socialist Republic of Cuba (West Cuba). In 1980, an uprising in West Cuba leads to the collapse of the communist government and the two countries' reunification.
    • After Czechoslovakia's government becomes pro-Western in the 60s and chooses to join NATO, the Slovakian communists secede from the country and stick with the Warsaw Pact, letting the Czechs go their own way. And then inverted post-WWIII, as Slovakia is defeated and forcibly reunited with the Czechs.
    • When Zambia ends up on the losing side of the Central African War, it gets carved up, with most of its territory being absorbed by Angola, Zaire, and Malawi, with the remnant becoming the New Lozi Kingdom.
    • After Iran is defeated in World War III, most of its border regions are stripped away by its neighbors, though the bulk of the country's interior is left untouched.
    • After Romania is defeated in WWIII, several provinces are carved out to recreate Transylvania as a free kingdom.
    • After WWIII, the Soviet Union goes under this even more heavily than in real life. In addition to all the SSRs being granted independence, the resulting civil war results in Russia being heavily divided between Moscow (which becomes a UN-run independent city), the Republic of Yakutia, Tatarstan, the People’s Republic of Baryutia, the Communonationalist Republic of Green Ukraine (OTL Amur Oblast), the Kingdom of Free Altai, the Khanate of Baskortostan, the Russian Republic of Samara, the Kingdom of Kalmykia, the Komi Social Democratic Republic, the Mari El Khanate, the Federal Republic of Mordovia, the Udmurt State, Chuvashia, the Republic of Nenets, the Republic of Khakassia, the Chelyabinsk Democratic Khanate, the National Siberian State of Russian Peoples (Zhirinovsky's fascist government), the Soviet of Volga (Soviet rump state in the Urals), and the Free Russian Republic (European Russia). Additionally, parts of Siberia are annexed by China, Japan, and the US (who run their territories like Puerto Rico), and other territories are annexed by the Ukrainian Hetmanate, Beloryssia, the new Timurid Empire, and Tannu Tuva.
    • To prevent civil war and genocide in the region, Rwanda is carved out of Uganda and divided among ethnic lines into the micro nations of Hutuland and the Republic of Tutsi Peoples.
    • In the chaos consuming South America post-WWIII, Uruguay collapses into a collection of bickering warlord fiefdoms (leading to Spain eventually invading in order to restore order), while Brazil undergoes a Civil War that ends with the Amazon territories being granted freedom under the control of indigenous peoples militias (as the main government doesn't have the resources to keep fighting them).
    • During the Great Southern War, Tanzania loses territory to Uganda, Kenya, Mozambique, India, and a once-again independent Zanzibar (the latter causes the country to change its name back to Tanganyika).
    • In the early 2000s, years of cultural conflict between Belgium's Francophone and Flemish populations lead to a referendum that results in the Walloon region separating from Belgium and instead joining France.
  • Twilight Of The Red Tsar has a few examples:
    • China breaks apart completely during the Sino-Soviet War. What's left is a PRC rump, a southeastern part controlled by the KMT, an independent Tibet, a series of Soviet satellites in the Northern parts and a Taoist extremist group that rules over Chongqing. Eventually, the KMT takes over most of the country and destroys both the Taoist extremists and the PRC, and finally reunifies China after decades of bloody fighting.
    • Soviet-occupied Austria is broken off to form a Soviet satellite state. This prompts West Germany and West Austria to unite into one country, which is then joined by East Germany after the fall of the Iron Curtain, with East Austria remaining independent.
    • During the Soviet Civil War, rebels capture most of north and central Russia, roughly all of Siberia east of the Yenisei River, a large chunk of the Urals, and the SSRs outside of Belarus and Central Asia.
  • Union and Liberty includes the balkanization of Mexico into a dozen states.

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama shows that this has happened to the US over the past thousand years in some of the few map shots we get. For instance, apparently a Velvet Revolution divided the Penn Republic and Sylvania. Doesn't stop Fry and co. from going on cross-continental trips.
  • In The Legend of Korra, the murder of the Queen of the Earth Kingdom by an anarchist group causes chaos throughout the Earth Kingdom, causing it to divide into several impoverished states and harassed by bandits.

    Real Life 
  • The term stems from the fragmentation of the Ottoman Empire's territories in the Balkans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Ottomans actually had been losing European territories since the 17th century, following the failure of the Siege of Vienna, but the Balkan fragmentation was notable because, rather than joining fellow Christian European empires (as was the norm before then), the seceded territories formed their own countries and started to fight among each other.
    • After the Greek war of independence, which lasted nearly a decade, the country gained full independence in 1830. It claimed more territories from its former colonizer in 1881 and 1912 (the First Balkan War)
    • The Treaty of Berlin in 1878 severely decimated the Balkan possessions, with Serbia, Romania, and Montenegro, all previously being Ottoman vassals (at least nominally), severing ties with the Ottomans for good.
    • 1908 saw the loss of Bulgaria, which declared independence, and Bosnia, which was formally annexed by the Austro-Hungarians (they had been de facto controlling Bosnia since 1878).
    • Finally, the Ottomans lost nearly all of its European possessions in the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913, which saw Macedonia, Albania, and Western Thrace being gobbled up by the so-called Balkan League. The League soon clashed over the newly-acquired possessions, something that further ignited World War I just a year later. In the end, the territories were mostly split up and annexed by Bulgaria, Greece, and Serbia, while Albania was declared independent at Italy's insistence.
  • This also happened to the Ottomans' archrival, the Habsburg Empire, in mostly the same region.
    • Austria lost Lombardy-Venetia to Italy during its crusade to unite the Italian people.
    • Nationalist pressures forced Austria to grant autonomy to Hungary, creating the Austro-Hungarian Empire and dividing the realm between Cisleithania (Austria) and Transleithania (Hungary).
    • Then after World War I, Croatia, Bosnia, and Slovenia seceded and joined up with Montenegro and Serbia to form the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (later Yugoslavia).
    • The German territories became part of Austria.
    • Bohemia and Moravia left with Slovakia to form Czechoslovakia.
    • Hungary became independent, but lost territories to neighboring countries.
    • Also, Krakiv and Lviv joined the rest of newly-independent Poland (though the latter would become part of Ukraine after WWII) and Transylvania joined with Romania (which at the time also included most of modern-day Moldova and the small bit of Ukraine to its south).
  • After Josip Broz Tito's death, ethnic tensions in Yugoslavia brought a more modern meaning to the term (as in through ethnic lines). Eventually, during Hole in Flag, Yugoslavia broke up in an extremely messy manner. As of 2006, there are six different countries which formally rose from its ashes: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia. In 2008, another balkanization occurred in Serbia: Kosovo, though half of the world has yet to recognize it.note 
  • Then there was the breakup of the Spanish colonial empire:
    • The Viceroyalty of New Spain, which encompassed Mexico, Central America, The Caribbean, and the Philippines, broke up in 1821 when Mexico declared independence, leaving the West and East Indies in Spain's hands. Afterwards:
      • The Mexican Empire endured for two years before fragmenting. It was much larger than Mexico today; barring the territories that were annexed by the United States after the Mexican-American War, it also included most of Central America except for Panama. After the monarchy was abolished, the Central American territories split off to form the Federal Republic of Central America. This new state, in turn, lasted until 1841 before breaking up again into the five modern countries: Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
      • Meanwhile, in the Spanish West Indies, the Dominican Republic declared independence in 1821, got re-annexed by Spain in 1861, and finally achieved full sovereignty in 1865. The rest of the colony, Cuba and Puerto Rico, were lost to The United States after the Spanish-American War in 1898. The former became independent in 1902, while Puerto Rico is still a US territory.
      • The Spanish East Indies was also annexed by the United States after the Spanish-American War. The Philippines achieved independence in 1946, while the rest (Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands) remain US territories.
    • The Viceroyalty of Peru, which encompassed South America and Panama, was reorganized in 1717 to form New Granada and again in 1776 to form Río de la Plata. From then on:
      • The Viceroyalty of Río de la Plata was the first to break away, with Paraguay seceding in 1811, followed by the rest in 1825, forming Bolivia and the United Provinces of Río de la Plata. The latter balkanized again in 1828 after a war with Brazil, forming Argentina and Uruguay.
      • Chile broke away from the Viceroyalty of Peru in 1818 after its war of independence. Peru itself achieved independence from Spain in 1824.
      • New Granada achieved independence in 1819 as a united country called Gran Colombia under the presidency of Simón Bolívar. Dissension immediately sprung up, however, and in 1831 (within Bolívar's time) the country broke up, forming Venezuela, Ecuador, and New Granada. The last of these later experienced balkanization of its own in 1903 to form Colombia and Panama.
  • The Partition of India split The Raj along religious lines: a Hindu-majority country (India) and a Muslim-majority one (Pakistan). In 1971, Pakistan split off again, this time along ethnic lines: Bengali-majority (Bangladesh) and the rest (Pakistan).
  • An inversion: after the World Wars, the European powers began decolonizing their possessions in Africa and The Middle East. Rather than splitting up their holdings by former tribal, ethnic, or religious lines, the new countries were mostly formed from the borders between holdings by different European powers, resulting in countries where different groups who spent most of their history fighting each other suddenly having to cooperate in governing a fledgling nation.
    • The division of the Middle East by the Allies after the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire caused shockwaves which still resonate to this day. After the Ottoman Empire was officially dissolved at Versailles, the Treaty of Sevres split the Ottoman territories in the Middle East along the Sykes-Picot line, dividing the area into two zones (one being Iraq, Jordan, and Mandatory Palestine, and the other being Lebanon and Syria), which were to be under European colonial rule before being eventually granted independence. Syria was formed into one territory even though it contained significant Alawi and Druze minorities who feared persecution from the Muslim majority, Iraq was united even though a quarter of the population were non-Arabs, and return of the Jewish People from the diaspora led to tension and conflict in the Palestinian Mandate. Needless to say, it turned into a recipe for disaster. Even Lebanon, which was specially carved by the French to ensure that conflict at least didn't happen to its Catholic majority, eventually succumbed to spillover from its neighboring states.
  • Since Alexander the Great left no heir and no instructions for a regency (and his only son Alexander IV born after his death was quickly assassinated), his Macedonian Empire fractured after his death in 323 BC. Once the dust cleared (after forty years), it was divided among his generals: Macedon (Cassander / Alexander's native Greece), the Ptolemaic Kingdom (Ptolemy I Soter / modern-day Egypt and southern Turkey), the Seleucid Empire (Seleucus I Nicator / modern-day Central Asia, Afghanistan, Iran, the Levant, Mesopotamia, and eastern Turkey), and the Kingdom of Pergamon (Lysimachus / modern-day Bulgaria, eastern Greece and western Turkey).
  • The theme of a Space-Filling Empire's decay resulting into anarchy and division into fragmented interwarring states is one of the most recognizable patterns throughout history. The Persian Empire (several times from classical antiquity to early modern times), The Roman Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, The Byzantine Empire, the Spanish Empire, the French Empire, The British Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire -– the list can go on......
  • In China, it's considered the "Mandate of Heaven" that eventually a dynasty will become corrupt, break down into warring states, and be reunified into a new dynasty due to the cycle repeating itself for 4000 years. This was of course very convenient, as it both gave justification for imperial rule (Heaven favors this person to run the country) while also justifying revolt and rebellion through explaining the corruption that dynasties inevitably suffer over time. This historical pattern happened to them so frequently that it became constitutional. Summed up in the opening line to Romance of the Three Kingdoms: "The empire, long divided, must unite; long united, must divide."
    • After the fall the Qing dynasty, China fell into a prolonged civil war that lasted until 1949. During these chaotic years, many states sprung up, some of them backed by foreign powers. These included Tibet and Mongolia (1912), Manchukuo (1932), and East Turkestan (1933 and 1944). By the time the war ended, the communists had taken over mainland China and reintegrated Manchukuo and East Turkestan, also re-annexing Tibet in 1951. However, thanks to US intervention, they were prevented from conquering Taiwan, where the previous government had fled, therefore de facto creating two Chinas: the People's Republic of China (mainland) and the Republic of China (Taiwan). On the other hand, Mongolia remained independent as a result of Soviet intervention and became a sovereign country after the Hole in Flag.
  • Russia has a few of this in its history:
  • Some of the post-Soviet states later balkanized on their own; Abkhazia and South Ossetia broke away from Georgia; Transnistria from Moldova; Crimea from Ukraine (formerly part of Russia, transferred to the Ukrainian SSR in The '50s, attempted to break away in 1993/1994, reintegrated into Ukraine and given status as an Autonomous Republic and then annexed by Russia after a referendum in 2014), and Artsakh from Azerbaijan. As the 2008 South Ossetian war has shown, a large number of these separations have been violent. Ironically enough, most of these further balkanizations have been under the auspices of Russia in order to weaken the states that broke away, but also with a plausible reason –- most such territories are populated by minority ethnic groups and were semi-autonomous regions during the Soviet era, but lost the privilege once assimilated into the new republics. As is the case with South Ossetia and Abkhazia, their local populations were willing to fight to retain autonomy. Russia's autonomous oblasts retain their status, perhaps a lesson learned from the infighting within the breakaway states.
  • Czechoslovakia followed the USSR's and Yugoslavia's example, splitting into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993. Thankfully, this split was nonviolent, being dubbed the "Velvet Divorce" (a shout-out to the Velvet Revolution, Czechoslovakia's phase of "Hole in Flag").
  • Germany, to varying degrees in history. It spent several centuries as at least 300 states under one theoretical state, which decreased to around 20, both legally and in practice (though bound in an alliance), followed by a shrinking number until there were two left (as far as Germans of the time saw it). After a short period of unification (75 years), it was split in two during the Cold War, then reunified in 1990 (though Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Austria, and German speaking parts of Switzerland, France, Italy, Belgium and Denmark remain outside Germany).
    • A certain secessionist sentiment remains, however, in modern Germany as well. Bavaria, which was historically an autonomous kingdom until the rise of Weimar Germany, currently enjoys political semi-autonomy inside the German Federation as the "Bavarian Free State" (having, among other things, its own constitution), which (moderately) popularised the idea of an independent Bavarian Republic outside the federation and the EU (whereas others would even get back the monarchy too); at least one political party has been pushing this agenda for the better half of a century.
  • Following the death of Prince Bolesław III in 1138, Poland was divided among his sons and over the next two centuries fractured into smaller princedoms. It was not until 1320 that the major regions were reunited under a single ruler. Later on, the entire nation would be divided up between Germany and Russia during the Partitions of Poland. Some of the other regions would not become part of Poland again until after World War II.
  • After Genghis Khan's death, the Mongol Empire split into the Chagatai Khanate (Central Asia), the Khanate of the Golden Horde (Russia and Kazakhstan), the Ilkhanate (Persia westward to Turkey), and the Yuan (China and modern Mongolia).
  • Early in the 20th century, Ireland successfully gained independence in a bloody but brief war, only for it to be divided in 1922 between the Catholic-dominated 26-county Southern Ireland (later the Irish Free State, and then simply Ireland) and the Protestant-dominated six-county Northern Ireland.note  The latter's situation looks to be slowly inverting with recent power-sharing agreements, though the 2016 Brexit vote might complicate matters.note 
  • Korea, which had been a united country for over a millennia, experienced this trope due to Western intervention. After World War II, the peninsula was divided along the 38th parallel north, with the northern and southern zones falling into the spheres of Soviet and American influence, respectively. After five years, the north decided to reunify the peninsula and invaded the south, beginning The Korean War, which ended in a stalemate and an unofficial armistice. The two are still divided today, as the communist, totalitarian Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the capitalist, democratic Republic of Korea. Unlike many examples though, they have a common language, culture, and heritage; the divide is solely political.
  • When Vietnam achieved independence in 1955, it went through the Korea path, being divided into a northern Soviet-influenced communist North Vietnam and southern American-influenced capitalist South Vietnam. Unlike Korea, the north went to the guerrilla path immediately after, commencing the horror that was the Vietnam War. After 20 years, Vietnam became one again under communist rule, defying Korea's fate.
  • Sentiment for the secession of majority Francophone Quebec from Canada ebbs and wanes, culminating in a referendum in 1995 where secession lost by a small margin.
    • One possibility suggested during the 1995 referendum was that parts of Quebec that were against secessionnote  could split off from an independent Quebec and either form their own nations or more likely merge back into Canada.
      • The First Nations of Quebec have said that they hold their lands under treaty with the Queen, and know nothing of any "Republic of Quebec", and thus if Quebec secedes from Canada, they'll secede from Quebec.
    • Quebec wasn't the first to attempt secession. Nova Scotia seemed to move to that direction in the first provincial election right after Confederation even occurred. British Columbia and western Alberta also mulled secession at the same time as Quebec. Newfoundland, the last province brought into the fold, has had a recent Premier who made overtures of secession. Even provinces came close to this at different times, such as creating a Province out of northern Ontario and dividing the Northwest Territories (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Nunavut were all carved out of the Northwest Territories).
    • Saskatchewan and Alberta went through a phase of this in the early 1980s, with several secessionist parties, such as the Unionist party (Who wanted to join the US) and the Western Canada Concept (who wanted to make a new country from the western provinces and the territories.). The latter recently got semi-revived with the creation of the Western Bloc Party, but they're getting very little traction, coming in 3rd from last in the most recent election.
  • Several political parties in Belgium want to split the country up between Dutch-speaking Flanders and Francophone Wallonia. Flemish nationalist party N-VA (the New Flemish Alliance) became the largest party in Parliament in the 2010 elections, leading to cabinet formation negotiations which dragged on for almost two years. Some figures point out that if Belgium were to split, it could become up to 4 different countries –- Flanders, Wallonia, formerly Prussian Eupen-Malmédy, and the multicultural city-state of Brussels, which also functions as the headquarters of The European Union.
  • The newest country in the world, South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011. Many argued that this was for the best: the country is mostly non-Arab and non-Muslim and had endured abuse and neglect from the central government for decades. However, significant foreign involvement was definitely a factor, something helped by the Sudanese government's extremely bad PR with West, which happily painted the conflict as an ethnic and religious one. Regardless, independence is not a happy ending for the new country, which is currently embroiled in a civil war far worse than anything it had experienced under Sudan.
  • This once happened to the United States. It didn't last long.
    • One bit of it did last, however. After Virginia seceded, the people in northwestern Virginia decided they'd like to still be part of the Union. Therefore, they seceded from Virginia, forming the new state of West Virginia. Even though Virginia was brought back into the Union by the end of the war, West Virginia remains a separate state to this day.
    • There's also a bit from the lead up: in 1820, as part of the Missouri compromise, Maine was added to the union as a free state to balance Missouri (a slave state). Before that is was part of Massachusetts.
    • Some native Hawaiians argue that the U.S. annexation of Hawaiʻi was illegal and call for the restoration of the Hawaiian monarchy. In 1993, Bill Clinton signed a bill which officially apologized for the not-nice way Hawaii was annexed back in the 1890s. In 2009, the Akaka Bill attempted to recognize native Hawaiians as a semi-sovereign "nation within a nation" (a legal status similar to that of mainland Native Americans, as well as Puerto Rico), but it failed to pass. Oddly, the claim that Hawaii isn't really part of the United States has only attracted the attention of a very few Obama birthers.
    • There also exists various movements to do this on the state level, though these would explicitly require the approval of both Congress and all states involved. Usually it's a case of one part of the state feeling shafted by the state government. Repeated instances that pop up on occasion (usually on slow news days) include California (either north/south or coastal/inlandnote ), the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, New York between the city and upstate (the big argument is over who would get to keep "New York"), and Illinois between Chicago and downstate.
    • You can take it another level with counties and municipalities doing it. Procedures, motivations, and success rates vary by state. For instance, both Staten Island and the San Fernando Valley voted to secede and become their own municipalities in the last couple of decades. In Staten Island's case, their 1993 referendum was 65% in favor of secession, though they stayed within the City of New York due to the election of Rudy Giuliani who promised to address their two biggest grievances of making the Staten Island Ferry free of charge and closing the Fresh Kills Landfill. The Valley's push, on the other hand, had their proposal unanimously blocked by the city council even though their 2002 referendum was 55% in favor of secession within the Valley.
  • This almost happened in the truest sense to the Roman Empire during the Crisis of the Third Century, when the empire was for decades overwhelmed with civil wars and military revolts. At its worst the empire split between the "real" Roman Empire centered around Italy, the Gallic Empire (mainly Gaul, Brittania, and Germania), and Queen Zenobia's Palmyrene Empire, which covered much of modern day Syria, Palestine/Israel, Egypt, and Turkey. All three "empires" were forcibly unified by 274, but it is an interesting what-if to consider what would have happened long-term if they were not...
    • After this has happened repeatedly in Italy's history, which witnessed the creation and fall of dozens of independent states every couple of decades, modern Italy still isn't safe from the secessionist popularity. South Tyrol (at least) used to be a possible candidate for secession, as it was only obtained (relatively) recently from Austria-Hungary after WW1, and is thus ended up being German-speaking and Austrian-cultured. On top of it, it already enjoys semi-autonomy after a brief 'uprising' in 1961 (casualties: 37 electricity pylons). Veneto, the region surrounding Venice, is one notable example of a region that still sees active campaigns for sovereignty by right-wing and nationalistic groups, particularly since it ranks (unsurprisingly) amongst the wealthiest places in Italy.
  • After the shock of the Fourth Crusade, where invaders from Catholic Europe on the way to wrest Jerusalem from Muslim rule (again) instead invaded Constantinople (short version: the Byzantine Emperor had recently been deposed, he appealed to the Crusaders for help in exchange for financially supporting them, got restored to the throne, then failed to pay up — though not for lack of trying), the Byzantine Empire balkanized as a result of there being not only multiple rival Orthodox Christian claimants to the imperial throne but also squabbling Latin Crusaders who wanted to carve out their own independent territories. You had Epirus (northwestern Greece), the duchy of Athens, Naxos, Rhodes, the kingdom of Thessalonica, the principality of Achaea (southern Greece), the Empire of Nikaea (Asia Minor), and the Empire of Trebizond (which despite calling itself an empire at its peak consisted of the southernmost tip of the Crimean peninsula and...well, Trebizond itself and its surrounding areas). Some were reincorporated into the Byzantine Empire under the ruler of Nikaea in 1261, but a few like Trebizond would hold out for a while even after the Byzantine Empire was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1453.
  • Balkan countries such as Bulgaria and Serbia underwent this in the Middle Ages, too. The Second Bulgarian Empire had various nobles secede since its (re)creation, culminating in what a visiting German chronist called "a thousand Bulgarias": the main kingdom (based in Târnovo, the traditional capital) given to the heir apparent, a province with a long history of secession (Vidin) given as a consolation prize to his disinherited older half-brother, and a despot seceding the Eastern province (Dobruja). The Serbian Empire fragmented into about ten fiefdoms shortly after the death of the ruler who carved it out, Stefan Dušan. All this fragmentation and infighting made the Balkans easy targets for the Ottoman conquest.
  • Happened quite a bit in Australia's history. Originally, it was divided between two separate colonies: Western Australia (formerly the Swan River Colony) and New South Wales. Over the years, New South Wales would fragment into Tasmania, South Australia, Victoria, Queensland, Northern Territory, the state it is today, and New Zealand (The newly-independent Australia offered both New Zealand and Fiji to join in. They refused, but they're still regarded as states on the Constitution). South Australia itself used to occupy Northern Territory, and short-lived states such as North Australia and Central Australia were also established. Later on, the Australian Capital Territory and Jervis Bay Territory also made themselves independent from New South Wales. As the Constitution of Australia allows for new states to be formed, regions such as Riverina (along the NSW-Victoria border), New England (northern NSW) and Capricornia (northern Queensland) have all lobbied for statehood. Just to add to the chaos, Western Australia has been threatening to secede from the rest of the nation ever since Federation became an idea (though their mood changes depending on how well their economy's doing).
  • A big issue in modern Spain is the increasing secessionist will of Catalonia and, to a lesser extent, the Basque Country, especially since the economic crisis started. Nationalists are in power in both of those regions and the central government's refusal to organize a referendum about Catalonia only fuels resentment. The Basque issue is more complex, as the northern part of historical Euskadi is in France, which is a much more centralized country and where the Basque Country is a historical region but not an administrative entity.
    • Similarly, the political turmoil of Brexit (the decision of the United Kingdom to leave membership of the European Union) has threatened to cause this in the UK. While the overall result was a 52-48 decision in favour of Leaving, Scotland and Northern Ireland overwhelmingly voted to stay in the EU, but were outweighed by the much higher English population. Electoral analysis even revealed that Wales would have narrowly voted to Remain, if not for the electoral influence of the numerous English retirees. Scottish nationalists therefore argue that this vote as ignoring the will of Scotland, and support for Scottish independence is growing, fuelled by the Conservative government of the UK outright refusing to let such a referendum happen, on the grounds that the 2014 referendum was supposed to be a generational thing (the Scots argue that the landscape has now changed — a lot of pro-Union arguments invoked EU membership). Northern Ireland also feel like their concerns over customs barriers with the Republic of Ireland are being ignored, and Welsh nationalists have suggested that, if Scotland becomes independent, there will be precedent for Welsh independence. And then there's the semi-serious suggestions that London (which voted heavily to Remain) would become an independent city-state. To top it all off, polls showed that many Leave voters feel Scottish independence from the UK is an acceptable price to pay for getting UK (or, at least, English) independence from the EU. It's not an impossible outcome that Brexit could cause the eventual fracturing of the United Kingdom.
  • And speaking of France, nationalists have recently won the regional elections in Corsica (although only by a relative majority) and the new president of the region went as far as to pronounce his inaugural speech in Corsican, not in French − notably saying that "Corsica is a nation of its own, not a piece of another country" and making a clear distinction between the "Corsican people" and French people from the continent. The population is very divided on the question, though, not helped by the fact that armed terrorism was a thing on the island until not so long ago (a prefect was assassinated in 1998, for example).
    • Brittany also has a history of nationalism due in part to its Celtic cultural roots, although most modern Bretons aren't really in favor of secession that much (the fact that some parts of the nationalist movement had ties to Nazi Germany and promoted a similar ideology probably doesn't help).
  • After the Battle of Austerlitz in 1806, the Holy Roman Empire collapsed in to two halves: Prussia and the "Confederation of the Rhine"; after WW2, when the former Allies failed to agree on the nature of a re-unified Germany, the Western Allies (Britain, France and the US) created the German Federal Republic from their half, prompting Soviet premier Krushchev to remark "So, all we have to show for 150 years of history is the re-creation of the Confederation of the Rhine".
  • Oslo, the Norwegian capital, suffers under a perpetual threat of becoming this — for political reasons. When the city has a right-wing leadership, the eastern part of the city suffers, and over the last decade, numerous threats were made on seceding the eastern parts of the city. Then, a more left-wing city council was elected, and then the western part of the city threatened to secede.
  • The Congo Crisis in the former Belgian Congo (now Democratic Republic of the Congo) has been caused by tensions between regions and the Léopoldville central authority and saw the following states created in 1960:
    • A State of Katanga bed by Moise Tschombé and backed by powerful Belgian economical interests and foreign mercenaries until they were crushed by the United Nations in 1963.
    • A Mining State of South Kasai led by Albert Kalondji and ordered like Katanga above, yet with a lesser foreign support, created briefly both in 1960 and 1962-1963.
    • A lumumbist People's Republic of Congo in Stanleyville, led by Antoine Gizenga shortly after Patrice Lumumba was arrested on December 1960 and was dissolved in 1961.
    • In the troubles of July and August 1960, yet other secessionist projects were attempted, such as the secession of the Equateur province by Bolikongo and, even more weirder, the secession of the Bas-Congo region, where was situated the capital Léopoldville!
  • Cyprus has been divided in two since 1974. Although the island is mainly populated by Greeks, there is a significant (18% of the population) Turkish minority who felt that they were being politically marginalized since the country gained independence from Britain in 1960. The final straw was a rumor that the Cypriot government at the time planned for the country to join Greece, causing Turkey to invade the country. The Turks then set up an internationally-unrecognized government encompassing the northern half of the island, leading to a massive migration as Greek Cypriots in the north scrambled to head south while Turkish Cypriots in the south headed north. The capital city, Nicosia, is also split in half, with each Cyprus basing their seat of government in their respective side of the city. Reunification talks have been repeatedly hindered because the Greek Cypriots want a unitary country, whereas the Turkish Cypriots want a federation.
  • As Somalia descended to civil war in the 1990s, the northern region of Somaliland unilaterally broke away to govern itself. Somaliland was formerly occupied by Britain, unlike the rest of Somalia which was occupied by Italy, so it did have a precedent for this decision. However, no one has yet to recognize it, with the UN citing fear that it will create a precedent for other regions in Africa to secede from their mother countries if they are embroiled in civil war.
  • Eritrea split off from Ethiopia in 1993, following a war of independence that spanned three decades.

Alternative Title(s): Balkanise Me, Balkanization