Everyone knows that European colonialism was a widespread and often destructive project that set almost the whole planet under the control of European powers over many hundreds of years.
The map below created by Reddit user Aofen shows territories colonized by European powers. Ottoman Empire and pre-modern transcontinental empires are omitted.
As you can see on the world map, nearly every corner of the earth was conquered outright or controlled under different names.
This covers the whole of the Americas and the whole of Africa. Asia and the Middle East were divided up as well.
Most of the territories under spheres of control on the map were politically ruled by the British Empire.
Countries that were never colonized by European powers
There are just ten nations that escaped European colonialism entirely.
Afghanistan was the focus of the British and Russian empires. Forces of the British Empire tried to take control of Afghanistan in the Second Anglo-Afghan War, which continued from 1878 to 1880. During this war, the Britains negotiated control of the nation’s foreign relationships while Afghanistan retained internal control.
Bhutan is placed in the Himalayas, which makes it a rugged territory to penetrate. From 1772 to 1774, the British army obtained control of some small parts of Bhutan. In negotiation for the withdrawal of British forces, Bhutan was granted to pay them five horses and control its lumbering industry. Notwithstanding this agreement, both nations were in constant boundary disputes until 1947.
When the European effort was to dominate the world, China was a considerable force. The extent of the country worked in its favor, creating a lot of problems for colonization. Rather than get colonial control, the British and French Empires could get some power over China through its export and import.
Ethiopia remained uncolonized by Europeans between 1880 and 1914 when European nations colonized Africa. In 1867 Emperor of Ethiopia Tewodros II wrote a letter to Queen Victoria of England, who never answered. Enraged, King Tewodros jailed some British citizens in 1868, declining to release them. Forces of the British Empire attacked in a failed effort to defeat the King. In 1888, Italian troops arrived but arranged with Ethiopia only to get control over Eritrea. Ethiopia succeeded in defeating the Italian forces in the First Italo-Ethiopian War of 1896.
The British and Russian Empires were engaged in dominating present-day Iran. Russian Empire conquered some of the country’s northern regions (present-day Turkmenistan) in the 19th century. Besides, British Empire obtained power in the eastern part of the Persian Empire, close by present-day Pakistan. Throughout this time, most of the Persian Empire was under the jurisdiction of the Qajar Dynasty, which had used money from European banks. Unable to compensate, the British and Russian authorities agreed to manage and share Iranian revenues from different resources. While Iran never consented to this situation, it did prevent the nation from being colonized.
Japan was likewise capable of resisting colonization. The Japanese administration was aware of the warning of European invasion, and in response, it started the Meiji Restoration of 1868, strengthening the political system under the Emperor of Japan. These political reforms prepared the nation to defeat Qing China during the First Sino-Japanese War successfully.
Preferably than fall under European control, Korea was controlled by the Asian nations. Korea was a vassal nation of Qing China until 1895, when the Japanese power got control after the successful First Sino-Japanese War. It became a formal Japanese colony in 1910, escaping European colonization.
Nepali army battle in the Anglo-Nepalese War (1814 – 1816). The British East India Company had a stronger army and was capable of gaining control of about 30 percent of the area of Nepal. But, the geographic peculiarities of Nepal served in its favor, and the mountain chains prevented the British expedition. Reluctant to take on the mountainous territory, forces of the British Empire left Nepal as a sovereign state, begetting a boundary region for British India.
9. Saudi Arabia
Tribal commanders from throughout the region have initially controlled Saudi Arabia. In the XVIth century, the Ottoman Empire expanded control of the bulk of the territory of Saudi Arabia and persisted in power till 1918.
During the 19th century, the Kingdom of Siam (present-day Thailand). The Kingdom of Siam was located within British-controlled Burma (Myanmar) and the French-controlled Indochina (present-day Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam). King of Siam Chulalongkorn adopted some European customs and became involved in European technology to stop colonization. His strategic efforts assisted the King in influencing the British-French relationship in his favor, providing the bulk of his kingdom from under European control.
Еhe end of the colonial period
The colonial-era began its ending after WWII, when the weakened countries of Europe could no longer manage to use such global influence and as international norms changed against them. The critical point is the Suez Crisis in 1956, in which the United States and USSR urged British and French forces to retreat after attacking Egypt to take the Suez Canal with Israeli cooperation. Nevertheless, several decades have passed for European colonialism to collapse entirely. France was struggling for Algeria till 1962, and Portugal didn’t leave its African colonies till 1974.
If you would like to read more about European colonialism, the following books may be of interest:
- Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
- The Dawning of the Apocalypse: The Roots of Slavery, White Supremacy, Settler Colonialism, and Capitalism in the Long Sixteenth Century
- Why the West Rules for Now: The Patterns of History and What They Reveal about the Future
- Colonialism/Postcolonialism (The New Critical Idiom)
- Discourse on Colonialism