South Yemen

Having effectively been a British colonial holding from the mid-19th century, the territory became independent in 1967 as the People’s Republic of Southern Yemen.

From the start, it was expected that it would eventually unite with the neighboring Yemen Arab Republic, which had been an independent state since 1918.

However, the unification process proved difficult; not least of all because the South fell to communist forces in 1969. Despite efforts to broker unification, no progress was made until the late 1980s, when a series of factors, including the gradual weakening of the Soviet Union, which supported South Yemen, and economic problems, made a merger desirable for the leaders of both countries.

On 22 May 1990, North and South Yemen, as they had become more generally known, formally ceased to exist and the new Republic of Yemen was created.

However, from the start, it was an unhappy union; not least of all because the two parts of the country had had very different histories. In 1994, the South unilaterally declared independence.

However, this went unrecognized by the international community and the country’s central government managed to reimpose its rule quickly. In 2015, Yemen was again plunged into conflict.

Although this wasn’t directly related to the South’s claim to statehood, the pro-independence Southern Transitional Council has managed to take control of parts of the south.

Looking ahead, it will hope to be able to use this as a basis to press for a return to independent sovereign statehood on the international stage at some point in the future.

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