What problems do newly independent countries have?

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In the anarchic system of states, in which each state exercises sovereignty (that is, the monopoly on violence and power) within its borders, to be declared an independent state is the ultimate aspriation of many peoples and nations. However, it is important to understand that once a state has established its independence and therefore its sovereignty, it faces many more challenges.

First and foremost, newly independent states must quickly organize and establish infrastructure on a massive scale. Historically, this has been an especially formidable task for states breaking free from imperial systems of governance. In formerly colonized states imperial overlords maintained control by ensuring that no infrastructure was accessible to indigenous people.

In imperial Africa, for instance, any roads that European imperialists built were intended to facilitate their trade of raw materials rather than inhabitant’s easy travel between major cities or settlements. The issues of infrastructure built by outsiders for extractive purposes extends to challenges in building a viable, independently-run economy.

Newly-independent states often lack the financial resources and organization to process their natural resources into manufactured goods. More often than not, this means that former colonies return to a certain level of dependence on the imperial powers. This leads to situations in which newly sovereign states exercise political independence without meaningful economic independence. State power without economic might is a massive problem for new independent states. Meaningful and long-lasting political independence requires a certain level of economic independence.

New states also face the challenge of the political transition from fighting for independence to establishing a political system that works for the newly independent country. Creating a stable government doesn’t always mean putting the fiery revolutionaries, guerilla warriors, and freedom fighters in the highest positions of the new government. Often, the people fighting on the frontlines in a grassroots independence movement are inexperienced in the formalized mechanisms of political governance. Navigating these hard truths in the aftermath of a hard-won independence struggle is usually messy and rarely conducive to quick and peaceful consolidation of political power.

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