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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A government in exile is a political group that claims to be a country's legitimate government, but for various reasons is unable to exercise its legal power, and instead resides in a foreign country or foreign area.[1] Governments in exile usually operate under the assumption that they will one day return to their native country and regain power. They are distinguished from rump states in the sense that a rump state still controls at least part of its previous territory (for example, during the First World War nearly all of Belgium was German-occupied, but Belgium and its allies held on to a small slice in the country's south); a government in exile, converesely, has lost all its territory.

Governments in exile frequently occur during wartime occupation, and sometimes also in the aftermath of civil war, revolution or military coup. For example, during the German expansion of the Second World War, numerous European governments and monarchs were forced to seek refuge in the United Kingdom rather than face destruction at the hands of Nazi Germany. The effectiveness of a government in exile depends mainly on the support it can get from foreign governments on the one hand and from the population of its own country on the other. Some governments in exile can develop into a formidable force, posing a serious challenge to the rival in actual possession of the country, while others are mainly maintained as a symbolic gesture with little effect on the actual situation.

The phenomenon of a government in exile long predates the term. In periods of monarchial government, the usual reference was to an exile monarch or dyansty setting up an exile court - such as the House of Stuart when driven from their throne by Cromwell and again at the Glorious Revolution, or the House of Bourbon during the French Revolution and the rule of Napoleon. With the developement of Constitutional Monarchy, governments in exile started to include both a monarch and a prime minister.


Current governments in exile

Governments in exile often have little or no recognition from other powers. Governments in exile currently include:


Deposed governments of current states

The list below includes governments in exile that have been created by deposed governments/rulers who claim to still be the legitimate authority of a territory they once controlled (or were elected as the legitimate government of).

Name Exile since Country controlling its claimed territory Information References
Belarus Belarusian National Republic 1920 Belarus Republic of Belarus It is currently led by Ivonka Survilla in Toronto, Canada in a council of 14 called the Rada. See History of Belarus [2]
Burma National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma 1990 Union of Myanmar Currently led by Sein Win. It is composed of members of parliament elected in 1990 but not allowed by the military to take office. It is based in Rockville, Maryland, U.S.A.
Ethiopia Crown Council of Ethiopia 1993 Ethiopia Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia The Crown Council of Ethiopia, led by H.I.H Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie and based in the Washington D.C. area, claims that the Emperor is still the legal head of Ethiopia.
Iran Monarchy of Iran 1979 Iran Islamic Republic of Iran The Monarchy of Iran, led by Reza Pahlavi and currently living in Potomac, Maryland, U.S.A.
Laos Monarchy of Lao 1975 Laos Lao People's Democratic Republic The Royal Lao Government in Exile, based in Paris, France [3]
Republic of China Republic of China 1949 People's Republic of China People's Republic of China The Republic of China (ROC) government is not unambiguously 'in exile'[citation needed] because although it was forced out of all of its original territory (except for a few tiny islands) and has stated an ambition to return to that original territory, the ROC also claims to be the legitimate sovereign of and has full control of the territory it now occupies. Taiwan was put under the administrative control of the Republic of China government from accepting the surrender of Japan in 1945[4] while the ROC was engaged in a civil war with the Chinese Communist Party. In 1949 the ROC government under Chiang Kai-shek was moved to Taipei. [5]

[6] [7]

Note: TIME magazine, Far Eastern Economic Review, Stanford University, US State Dept., Public Broadcasting Service, BBC, US Congressional Research Service, UK Parliament, UK Foreign Office, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and numerous law journals have all referred to the Republic of China on Taiwan as a government in exile.[8]

Alternative governments of current states

The list below consists of governments that have been created in exile by political organisations and opposition parties that aspire to become a territory’s actual governing authority, and have been created as alternatives to the government currently in control of the territory.

Name Year of claimed exile Government presently controlling claimed territory Note References
Equatorial Guinea Progress Party of Equatorial Guinea 2003  Republic of Equatorial Guinea The Progress Party of Equatorial Guinea proclaimed Severo Moto "President of Equatorial Guinea" in Madrid, Spain. [9]
South Vietnam Government of Free Vietnam 1975  Socialist Republic of Vietnam Based in Garden Grove, California and Missouri City, Texas, USA. Since 1995, has claimed to be a continuation of the Republic of Vietnam [10]

Subnational governments

The list below refers to entities which currently function as independent states, but are claimed by the governments in exile to de jure form part of a different political entity.

Name Exile since Country controlling its claimed territory Information References
Georgia (country) Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia 1993 Abkhazia Republic of Abkhazia A Georgian provincial government whose territory is currently under the control of Abkhaz separatists. It is led by Malkhaz Akishbaia.
South Ossetia Provisional Administration of South Ossetia 2008 South Ossetia Republic of South Ossetia A Georgian provincial administration whose territory is currently under the control of South Ossetian separatists. It is led by Dmitry Sanakoyev.

Separatist governments

The list below includes governments in exile of territories which are not fully independent today, but have been subsumed by a different political entity.

Name Exile since Country controlling its claimed territory Information References
Republic of Ambazonia 2004 Cameroon Republic of Cameroon Former British Mandate territory of Southern Cameroons. Declared independence on Dec 31 1999. [11]
Biafran Government in Exile 2007 Nigeria Federal Republic of Nigeria Seeking to reestablish the Republic of Biafra. Declared independence on August 28, 2007. It is based in Washington, DC. [12]
Flag of Cabinda.svg Republic of Cabinda 1975 Angola Republic of Angola Based in Kinshasa, the Cabinda was invaded by Angola in the year 1975. Cabinda had been a Portuguese protectorate, while Angola had been a colony.
 Chechen Republic of Ichkeria 2000 Russia Russian Federation The government is largely based in Western Europe, Arab nations, and the United States. Some members are fighting in the rebel movement against the Russian Army.
Republic of Serbian Krajina Republic of Serbian Krajina 2005 Croatia Republic of Croatia Reconstituted on 26 February 2005 in Belgrade, Serbia by the remains of the Government of the Republic of Serbian Krajina after Croatian forces pushed out the internationally unrecognized entity in 1995 during Operation Storm at the end of the Croatian War of Independence.
Shanstateflag.png Interim Government of Federated Shan States 2005 Burma Union of Myanmar Aims to set up an independent state for the Shan ethnic group in territory currently controlled by Burma/Myanmar. [13]
South Moluccas Republic of the South Moluccas 1950 Indonesia Republic of Indonesia The Republik Maluku Selatan, from the South Moluccas, Indonesia, have been exiled in the Netherlands since 1950.
Tibet Central Tibetan Administration 1959  People's Republic of China The Central Tibetan Administration of the Dalai Lama, a government in exile (based in Dharamsala, India), which claims to represent the people of Tibet. [14]
East Turkestan The Government in Exile of East Turkestan Republic 2004  People's Republic of China Seeking independence for East Turkestan from the People's Republic of China. [15]
Iraqi Kurdistan Western Kurdistan Government in Exile 2004 Syria Syrian Arab Republic Aims to create a Kurdish state in Syria, currently based in London, UK. [16]
 Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic 1976 Morocco Kingdom of Morocco Is headquartered in the Tindouf region in Algeria but controlling what it calls the "Free Zone" in the eastern part of Western Sahara. Claims de jure sovereignty over the entire territory of Western Sahara.

Actions of governments in exile

International law recognizes that governments in exile may undertake many types of actions in the conduct of their daily affairs. These actions include:

  • becoming a party to a bilateral or international treaty
  • amending or revising its own constitution
  • maintaining military forces
  • retaining (or "newly obtaining") diplomatic recognition by sovereign states
  • issuing identity cards
  • allowing the formation of new political parties
  • instituting democratic reforms
  • holding elections
  • allowing for direct (or more broadly-based) elections of its government officers, etc.

However, none of these actions can serve to legitimatize a government in exile to become the internationally recognized legal government of its current locality. By definition, a government in exile is spoken of in terms of its native country, hence it must return to its native country and regain power there in order to obtain legitimacy as the legal government of that geographic area.

Past governments in exile

Name Exiled/
Created(*) since
Integrated(°) since
Country controlling its claimed territory Information References
 Dutch Republic 1795 1814°  Batavian Republic between 1795 and 1814 the Government of the Dutch Republic in Exile lived in London following a French Invasion led by William V, Prince of Orange. Ultimately they returned to create the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815.
Korea Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea 1919* 1948°  Empire of Japan Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea, based in Shanghai, China and later in Chongqing. It was created in 1919 after March 1st Movement. After Japan’s defeat in World War II President Syngman Rhee became the first president of the First Republic of South Korea
Bandeira da FNLA.svg Revolutionary Government of Angola 1962* 1992° Angola Republic of Angola The Revolutionary Government of Angola in Exile, founded in 1962 and based in Kinshasa, Congo-Kinshasa. The military branch known as the National Liberation Front of Angola was recognized as a political party in 1992 and holds three seats in Angola’s parliament.
Estonia Estonian Government in Exile 1953* 1992°  Soviet Union The Estonian Government in Exile was established in Sweden by several members of Otto Tief's government. No state had recognized this government. Also, it was not recognized by Estonian diplomatic legations that were seen by western countries as legal representatives of the occupied state.

Alternative government was created by another group of Estonian exiled politics in the same year in Munich but soon it ceased to exist.

Spain Second Spanish Republic 1939 1977 Spain Spanish State Spanish Republican government in Exile after Francisco Franco's coup d'état. Based in Mexico City from 1939 to 1946 when it was moved to Paris where it lasted until Franco's death.
Flag of Georgia (1918-1921).svg Democratic Republic of Georgia 1921 1954 Flag of Georgian SSR.svg Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic Government of the Democratic Republic of Georgia in Exile after the Soviet invasion of Georgia of 1921 and based in Leuville-sur-Orge, France.
Flag of Ukrainian People's Republic 1917.svg Ukrainian National Republic 1920 1992 Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic

Poland Second Polish Republic

Czechoslovakia Czechoslovak Republic

Romania Kingdom of Romania

Government of the Ukrainian People's Republic in Exile after the Soviet invasion of Ukraine in 1920.
Aceh Aceh Sumatra National Liberation Front 1976* 2005 Indonesia Republic of Indonesia The Free Aceh Movement, a government in exile for the Aceh special territory of Indonesia, is headquartered in Sweden, which had surrendered its separatist intentions and dissolved its armed wing following the 2005 peace agreement with the Indonesian Government.
Gabon Bongo Doit Partir 1998 2009 Gabon Gabon Translated name: "Bongo must go". Founded by Daniel Mengara, this organization proclaimed itself the legitimate government of Gabon in opposition to president Omar Bongo. After Bongo's death in June 2009, Mengara returned to Gabon in order to participate in the country's elections. [18][19]
Confederate Government of Missouri 1861 1865 United States United States of America (Union) Missouri had both Union and Confederate Governments, but the Confederate Government of Missouri was an exiled government, eventually governing out of Marshall, Texas. [20]
Kingdom of Hawaii 1893 1895 Republic of Hawaii The queen of Hawaii Liliuokalani was overthrown in 1893 by descendents of Christian missionaries who established the Republic of Hawaii after failing to annex Hawaii to the United States. During this time members of the former government reassembled, after a failed insurgency in 1895 the queen formally disbanded the kingdom.

World War II and Cold war

Many countries established a government in exile after loss of sovereignty in connection with World War II:

The Provisional Government of Free India (1942–45) was established by Indian nationalists in exile during the war.

Other exiled leaders in Britain included King Zog of Albania and Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia.

Notable examples of occupied countries which retained partial sovereignty through their overseas territories included Belgium and Free France.

The Danish exception

The Occupation of Denmark (9 April 1940) was administered by the German Foreign Office, contrary to other occupied lands that were under military administration. Denmark did not establish a government in exile, although there was an Association of Free Danes established in London. King Christian X and his government remained in Denmark, and functioned comparatively independently for the first three years of German occupation. Meanwhile, Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands were occupied by the Allies, and effectively separated from the Danish crown. (See British occupation of the Faroe Islands, Iceland during World War II, and History of Greenland during World War II)

Persian Gulf War

Following the Iraqi invasion and occupation of Kuwait on August 2, 1990, Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and senior members of his government fled to Saudi Arabia, where they set up a government-in-exile operating out of a luxury hotel in Dhahran. The Kuwaiti government-in-exile was far more affluent than most other such governments, having full disposal of the very considerable Kuwaiti assets in western banks - of which it made use to conduct a massive propaganda campaign denouncing the Iraqi occupation and mobilising public opinion in the West in favor of war with Iraq. In March 1991, following the American victory in the Persian Gulf War, the Sheikh and his government were able to return to Kuwait.


See also


  1. ^ Princeton University WordNet
  2. ^ Official website of the Belarusian National Republic
  3. ^ NW World News Prayer Network: # 2577
  4. ^ UNHCR
  5. ^ Stanford University SPICE(Stanford Program On International And Cross Cultural Education): Introduction to Sovereignty: A Case Study of Taiwan(2004)
  6. ^ Kerry Dumbaugh (Specialist in Asian Affairs Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division) (23 February 2006). "Taiwan’s Political Status: Historical Background and Ongoing Implications". Congressional Research Service. Retrieved 20 December 2009. "While on October 1, 1949, in Beijing a victorious Mao proclaimed the creation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Chiang Kai-shek re-established a temporary capital for his government in Taipei, Taiwan, declaring the ROC still to be the legitimate Chinese government-in-exile and vowing that he would “retake the mainland” and drive out communist forces." 
  7. ^ John J. Tkacik, Jr. (19 June 2008). "Taiwan's "Unsettled" International Status: Preserving U.S. Options in the Pacific". Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 20 December 2009. "Chiang Kai-shek wanted to fight it out on an all-or-nothing basis. There are also reports that Chiang's advisors convinced him that if the ROC mission stayed to represent Taiwan, Chiang would be under pressure to demonstrate in some constitutional way that his Chinese government-in-exile represented the people of Taiwan rather than the vast population of China. Doing so would require Chiang to dismantle his existing regime (which was elected in 1947 on the Chinese mainland and continued to rule in Taiwan under emergency martial law provisions without benefit of elections), adopt an entirely new constitu­tion, and install an entirely new government." 
  8. ^ Republic of China government in exile,, retrieved 2010-02-27 
  9. ^ BBC "Timeline: Equatorial Guinea" # 2577
  10. ^ Website of the Government of Free Vietnam
  11. ^
  12. ^ Biafraland
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^
  15. ^ [2]
  16. ^ [3]
  17. ^ Talmon, Stefan (1998). Recognition of governments in international law. Oxford University Press. p. 299. ISBN 0198265735. 
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^


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