- Colonization is defined as the process of discovery, conquest, and settlement of one country over another.
- European nations such as Portugal, Spain, France, the Dutch Republic, England, and others tried to conquer the rest of the world. This process started during the late 15th century and continued well into the 20th century.
- By the time World War II happened, almost 40% of the land area of our planet was considered a colony.
Colonization is defined as the process of discovery, conquest, and settlement of one country over another. This process has been performed by nations throughout human history, starting with the Bronze Age and continuing with the Greek and Roman empires. Still, when we mention colonization, we mostly refer to the age of Western Colonization.
This is considered to be the most extensive and damaging colonial action in history by most experts. European nations such as Portugal, Spain, France, the Dutch Republic, England, and others tried to conquer the rest of the world. This process started during the late 15th century and continued well into the 20th century. By the time World War II happened, almost 40% of the land area of our planet was considered a colony.
Still, several countries were never colonized by European forces. These countries include Liberia and Ethiopia in Africa and several Asian countries, including Japan, China, and Iran. Most of these countries have long histories and were developed to a higher degree than other countries that were colonized. There are other factors that helped these countries not get colonized, and some of them are the difficulty of reaching the country and its distance from Europe. This article will take a look at several countries that were never colonized.
The main reason why the sovereign nation of Liberia was never colonized is probably the fact that it was created relatively recently, in 1847. Americans founded this country in 1821 and controlled it for 17 years before the citizens managed to achieve partial independence. It took eight more years before they declared complete independence, on July 26th, 1847.
The reason Liberia was “created” was actually quite strange. In the 19th century, a society in the United States called the American Colonization Society (ACS) believed that black people should not be free in the U.S. They wanted all the free black people to return to Africa, and the group was soon taken over by black people who eventually created the colony that became Liberia.
Ethiopia was occupied by Italy during World War II, but they never achieved colonial administration there, so the country is considered never to have been colonized. Ethiopia was previously known as Abyssinia, and Italy attempted to take it as a colony in the 19th century but failed. Mussolini tried it during World War II, and the country was annexed by Italy.
Still, not long after that, emperor Haile Selassie made an appeal for help, asking for countries to remove the Italian forces from his country. He wanted to regain independence and gained support from the United States and Russia. The independence of Ethiopia was regained in 1941, and Selassie took over the throne once again.
Japan was faced with the threat of colonization from the west numerous times. However, the reaction of the Japanese people was different than that in other countries. They made an effort to revolutionize the political and social structures in Japan. This process was called the Meiji Restoration of 1868. Thanks to these efforts, Japan was able to defeat Qin China in the First Sino-Japanese War.
They also managed to win the Russo-Japanese war in 1905, which surprised most other European nations and made them think twice about their attempts to colonize this nation. Japan refused to allow itself to be colonized and actually managed to become an imperial power by seizing large parts of Asia and annexing Korea and Manchuria.
It is hard to imagine any country being able to colonize China in its entirety. The country is simply too large, which makes that sort of effort impossible. No European country would dare even attempt to do something like that. Still, some managed to achieve moderate success by trading with China and then subsequently engaging in conflicts.
Britain and France are two countries that used that tactic. They started trading with China in order to gain a foothold and then started the Opium Wars. The wars ended with treaties that gave large concessions to these European countries. Naturally, once they found out about these other countries from Europe, such as Italy and Russia, as well as the United States wanted their share of the cake that China had to offer. They managed to split China into different spheres and stripped the Qing Dynasty of their domination, but they did not actually manage to colonize the country.
Iran, the country which was known to westerners as Persia until the 20th century, was an important piece of the colonization game for many European countries. Russia tried colonizing it throughout the 19th century but did not manage to leave a permanent trace or annex the country. Britain managed to extend its influence on the eastern regions of Iran, which was made easier because it borders Pakistan, which was a British colony.
The Anglo-Russian Convention that was held in 1907 divided the influence of Britain and Russia over many of the Asian countries. Russia got a hold of the majority of Iran, which was made possible because of the debts the country was in. Still, it never became an official colony, even though it lost parts of its territory and its revenue stream temporarily.