Independence is the self-government of a nation, country, or state by its residents and population, generally exercising sovereignty.
The term independence is used in contrast to subjugation, which refers to a region as a "territory" —subject to the political and military control of an external government. The word is sometimes used in a weaker sense to contrast with hegemony, the indirect control of one nation by another, more powerful nation.
Independence can be the initial status of an emerging nation (often filling a political void), but is often an emancipation from some dominating power. It can be argued that independence is a negative definition: the state of not being controlled by another power through colonialism, expansionism or imperialism. Independence may be obtained by decolonization, or by separation or dismemberment. Although the last three can often coincide with it, they are not to be confused with revolution, which typically refers to the violent overthrow of a ruling authority. This sometimes only aims to redistribute power—with or without an element of emancipation, such as in democratization—within a state, which as such may remain unaltered. The Russian October Revolution, for example, was not intended to seek national independence; the United States Revolutionary War, however, was.
Autonomy (in slight contrast) refers to a kind of independence which has been granted by an overseeing authority that itself still retains ultimate authority over that territory (see Devolution). A protectorate refers to an autonomous region that depends upon a larger government, for its protection as an autonomous region. The dates of established independence (or, to a lesser degree, the commencement of revolution), are typically celebrated as a national holiday known as an independence day.
Sometimes, a state wishing to achieve independence from a dominating power will issue a declaration of independence, the earliest surviving example being Scotland's Declaration of Arbroath dating from 1320, and the most famous being the U.S. Declaration of Independence issued in 1776.