In 1945, roughly 30 per cent of humanity or over 700 million people lived under European colonial rule; 20 years later the only substantial colonial territories were Portuguese Africa and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) with a combined population of around 22 million — and their days were numbered. This great transformation reshaped the international order: in South Asia, which provides one geographic focus for this book, a sub-continental colonial empire was partitioned in 1947 into the sovereign states of India and Pakistan. In sub-Saharan Africa, my second geographic focus, individual colonies were reconstituted as sovereign states: seventeen became independent in 1960, and a further eight in 1961–4. (Henceforth, it will be referred to simply as ‘Africa’.) Since power was transferred to politicians enjoying an electoral mandate, it was an extraordinary ‘wave’ of democratisation, though soon followed by a flurry of coups and constitutional revisions that installed one-party regimes or military governments. (Regrettably, South East Asia — the third great region of transformation — has been excluded from this study for want of space.) By transmitting the principle of territorial sovereignty into the contemporary world, the colonial experience left a lasting imprint, as is plainly evident from the political map of Africa where the correspondence between formerly colonial and now national territories is near perfect.
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