Breaking Away

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A Palestinian woman holds aloft her national flag as she walks past Israeli soldiers during a protest against Israel's controversial separation barrier in the village of Bilin, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, on Dec. 31, 2010. Palestinian leaders have said they will seek U.N. recognition of their country within its 1967 borders, despite Israel's disputed claim to some of that territory.

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A man walks by trucks parked to form a blockade on the Spanish border with France on June 10, 2008, in La Jonquera, Catalonia, Spain. Catalonia is an autonomous region of Spain; a Statute of Autonomy passed in 2006 by the Spanish Parliament declared Catalonians to be an independent "nation," but the Constitutional Court in Madrid declared that was valid only historically and culturally, not legally.

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A tourist admires the Gegsky waterfall in northwest Abkhazia, a popular destination with Russian tourists, in July 2006. Most countries still acknowledge Abkhazia to be part of Georgia, but separatists gained control of the region during the 2008 Russo-Georgian War.

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A teenage girl stands in front of a makeshift shelter at a camp for internally displaced people in Galkayo, a town in Somalia's northern breakaway state of Puntland, on Oct. 20, 2009. Its leaders declared it to be an autonomous state in 1998, in the wake of the Somali Civil War.

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Kurdish men dance during a traditional wedding ceremony in the Kurdish city of Arbil, northern Iraq, on February 18, 2010. Kurdistan is an autonomous region of Iraq; the government in Baghdad officially has sovereignty over it, but Kurds in Iraq have an economy and military that are largely independently administered.

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A cattle buyer stands in a ring at a market in Juba, the capital of South Sudan on Jan. 12. South Sudan, one of the world's poorest regions, is holding a referendum on whether or not to secede from the government in the northern capital of Khartoum.

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A man and his grandson climb a Soviet T-34 tank on Oct. 19, 2008, in front of the Transnistrian Parliament building in Tiraspol, Moldova. Tiraspol is the second largest city in Moldova and is the capital of the de facto independent Transnistria. The Transnistrian Moldavian Republic, located in the eastern region of the country, is not acknowledged internationally, but has had its own president, currency, and army since 1991, when it made a unilateral declaration of indepenence from Moldova.

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A family of South Ossetian refugees on June 20, 2006, walking along a street in the village of Gizel, in the Russian province of North Ossetia. South Ossetia is still generally acknowledged to be part of Georgia, but separatists gained control of the territory during the 2008 Russo-Georgian War.

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Western Saharians commute across their country by truck on Oct. 17, 2005. Western Sahara was a Spanish colony that, according to a 1975 judgment by the International Court of Justice, possessed the right to self-determination. Morocco, however, has made historical claims on the territory, and has refused to allow its population a referendum despite multiple interventions from third-parties.

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The Aurora Borealis glows in the sky on Sept. 03, 2007, in the Greenland town of Kangerlussuaq. Greenland is a part of the Kingdom of Denmark, but in 2009 won self-determination with responsibility for self-government of judicial affairs, policing, and natural resources.

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