Former Dutch Colonies

Dutch architecture in Sri Lanka.

The Dutch were among the European groups that established several colonies across the world during the colonial era. The Dutch Empire today comprises of several overseas colonies, outposts, and enclaves that were administered and controlled by the Dutch Chartered companies such as the Dutch East Indian Company and the Dutch West India, and eventually by the Dutch Republic and the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Although most of the colonies have since gained their independence from the Dutch, some former colonies like Curacao, Bonaire, and Aruba chose to retain their membership to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Below are the former Dutch Colonies.

Former Dutch Colonies in Africa

The first Dutch Colony in Africa was established in Ghana in the 16th century, commonly referred to as the Dutch Gold Coast, where they exploited mainly gold and slaves. The slaves from Ghana were taken through the Elmina Castle and sold to the Americans and Europeans. However, the Portuguese captured Fort Elmina in 1637 and the Dutch Gold Coast ceded to the British in 1872. The Dutch did not have much influence in the Ivory Coast as they only occupied the Goree Island which they captured from the Portuguese in 1588. The island was named after the Dutch island of Goeree. The British took over the island in 1664.

The Dutch were the first Europeans to establish a colony in South Africa. They first settled in Southern Africa where they increased their colonial activities, leading to the founding of the port city of Cape Town and establishment of the Dutch East India Company in 1652. The Cape Colony remained under the Dutch until 1795 when it was briefly captured by the British. The Dutch recaptured the colony in 1803 but it again fell to the British in 1806.


The Dutch colonies were also established in Europe. After the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815, the Congress of Vienna established the United Kingdom of the Netherlands under the rule of King William I. However, there was unrest in the new country between the Protestants and the Catholics or the Northern Netherlands and the Southern Netherlands. In 1830, the Belgian Revolution broke out in the southern half of the Kingdom, leading to the independence of the new state of Belgium. The Congress of Vienna also established Luxembourg as Grand Duchy with the Dutch King as the grand duke. The king was to govern Luxembourg as an independent state but instead administered it as one of the Dutch provinces, effectively acting as one of the Dutch colonies.

The United States

Although the Dutch only took control of the Hudson River for about 55 years, they established colonies and series of trading posts in the region. The Company of New Netherlands established a settlement at Fort Orange at Albany. To protect Albany, the West Indian Company who took over the settlement founded New Amsterdam (now New York City) in 1625. The New Netherlands colony was eventually established along the east coast of America. However, the Dutch lost the colony to the British during the 1664 Anglo-Dutch War.

Other Former Colonies

Other former Dutch colonies include Brazil, Guyana, French Guiana, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and Suriname. Apart from colonies, the Dutch also established trading posts in different parts of the world, especially in Asia, Africa, and South America.

Former Dutch Colonies

Rank´╗┐Dutch Colonies
1 Belgium
2 Brazil
3 Ivory Coast
4 French Guiana
5 Ghana
6 Guyana
7 Indonesia
8 Luxembourg
9 Mauritius
10 United States
11 South Africa
12 Sri Lanka
13 Taiwan
14 Suriname

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