Blog Connections

Dependent Territories

When this blog post is published, I have just arrived in Curacao. Curacao is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands at the same level as the Netherlands, Aruba and Sint Maarten. It has its own currency, the Netherlands Antillean guilder. It’s a 10 hour flight from Amsterdam. Flights depart Schiphol from the non-Schengen zone. You have to show your passport to enter and to leave. However, when the Dutch Prime Minister adviced against all non-essential travel abroad during the 2nd wave of Covid, the Dutch Caribbean including Curacao was notably exempted as it was considered domestic travel.

Curacao’s only WHS, Willemstad, is included in the total Dutch count as well. It got me thinking about the odd positions of other WHS in Dependent territories. Of course we have a connection for them already!

What is a Dependent territory?

Wiki defines a Dependent territory as “a territory that does not possess full political independence or sovereignty as a sovereign state, yet remains politically outside the controlling state's integral area.” 

Characteristics to look for include:

  • a great degree of autonomy from its controlling state (for example having their own parliament)
  • often former colonies
  • having their own ISO 3166 country code

Which countries do have WHS in their dependent territories?

Denmark has Greenland with 3 WHS. Greenland has far-reaching self-rule, which may eventually lead towards full independence from Denmark.

Australia has Heard Island and Norfolk Island with a WHS each. They are both external territories. Norfolk Island has a colonial history but recently seems to be on the road to closer association with Australia. Heard Island has no permanent population but does have its own country code.

France has 3 WHS in its dependent territories. The French Southern Territories (French Austral Lands and Seas) is an Overseas Territory, French Polynesia (Taputapuātea) an Overseas Collecitivity and New Caledonia has a status all of its own. Reunion on the other hand is an overseas department (part of the eurozone, voting for the French parliament) and is not considered a dependent territory (although it has its own country code).

The UK has WHS in the 4 British Overseas Territories of Gibraltar, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, The Pitcairn Islands and Bermuda. 

The USA has a WHS in both the unincorporated territories of Puerto Rico (La Fortaleza) and the United States Minor Outlying Islands (Midway Island in Papahanaumokuakea).

We can also add Macau, which is a Special Administrative Region of China. They “greatly differ from mainland China in administrative, economic, legislative and judicial terms, including by currency, left-hand versus right-hand traffic, official languages and immigration control.”

A few special cases

In our original connection we also listed Jeju, Rapa Nui and the Sub-Antarctic Islands. These have a lesser degree of autonomy than the territories mentioned above and do not have their own country code:

  • Jeju is “is the only self-governing province in South Korea, meaning that the province is run by local natives instead of politicians from the mainland”. They are represented by 3 constituencies in the National Assembly of South Korea.
  • Rapa Nui is a “special territory of Chile”. Administratively however it is governed as a province of a mainland region. It has little autonomy and only a few distinct legislations(*). 
  • The Sub-Antarctic islands are part of the the New Zealand outlying islands. "Although considered as integral parts of New Zealand, seven of the nine island groups are not part of any region or district, but are instead designated as Area Outside Territorial Authority.” As they are unpopulated, they lack their own government or country code.

I am considering delisting these 3 cases from the connection, but would like to hear your voices on this subject first in the comments section below. And if we allow (some of) them, shall we then also add Reunion?

Els - 29 November 2020

Leave a comment


James 8 December 2020

It is very difficult to determine whether a region is a dependent territory or not. The definition of dependent territory is unclear, but I think you should delist all 3 cases from the connection.

A lot of countries have self-governing provinces or autonomous regions, these regions form an integral part of their country. I think Jeju is one of them.

It seems to me that Rapa Nui has even less autonomy than Jeju, so no Rapa Nui either.

As for the NZ Sub-Antarctic Islands, they are just part of NZ, there is nothing about them. Again, no.

Wojciech 29 November 2020

Territories without permanent population should be delisted if they don't belong to other dependent territory. Dependency without people makes no sense. So Gough should be kept, Heard, French Lands etc. deleted.

Jay T 29 November 2020

Welcome to the Western Hemisphere! Hope you enjoy your time in the Caribbean. I don’t have strong opinions about Jeju, but I have thoughts on the other two sites. Rapa Nui is a province of Chile, and that seems counter to the definition of a dependent territory; I’d be fine delisting it. As for New Zealand’s Subantarctic Islands, I think they should stay based on their sponsorship by New Zealand; they seem to me in a similar position to the islands making up Papahānaumokuākea in the US.