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Who Gets to Have Their Own Country?

You might think simple rules decide the creation of nation states. You'd be wrong.

You might think simple rules decide the creation of nation states. You'd be wrong.

There are plenty of people out there who want their own state - like in Iraqi Kurdistan and Catalonia, which both have independence referendums coming up. Yet the national governments in Baghdad and Madrid say the votes - whatever their outcome - won't result in new countries. So how do you start a new country? Making sense of an atlas dotted with exceptions, special cases and lands in limbo, we ask: who gets to have their own country?

(Photo: Young boy holds a pro-Independence Catalan flag (Senyera) during Catalonia National Day. Credit: Quique Garcia/Getty Images)

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23 minutes

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