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This article is about a type of political territory. For other uses, see Colony (disambiguation).
Chart of non-self-governing territories (as of June 2012).
Puerto Rico, considered by some to be "the world's oldest colony"[1][2][3]
United Nations list of Trust and Non-Self-Governing Territories (official document)

In politics and history, a colony is a territory under the immediate political control of a state, distinct from the home territory of the sovereign. For colonies in antiquity, city-states would often found their own colonies. Some colonies were historically countries, while others were territories without definite statehood from their inception. The metropolitan state is the state that owns the colony. In Ancient Greece, the city that founded a colony was called the metropolis. Mother country is a reference to the metropolitan state from the point of view of citizens who live in its colony. There is a United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.

Unlike a puppet state or satellite state, a colony has no independent international representation, and its top-level administration is under direct control of the metropolitan state.

The term informal colony is used by some historians to refer to a country under the de facto control of another state, although this term is often contentious.


The word Colony comes from the Latin word colōnia. This in turn derives from the word colōnus, which means colonist but also implies a farmer. Cologne is an example of a settlement preserving this etymology. Other, less obvious settlements that began as Roman colonia include cities from Belgrade to York. A tell-tale sign of a settlement once being a Roman Colony is a city centre with a grid pattern.[4] The terminology is taken from architectural analogy, where a column pillar is beneath the (often stylized) head capital, which is also a biological analog of the body as subservient beneath the controlling head (with 'capital' coming from the Latin caput, meaning 'head'). So colonies are not independently self-controlled, but rather are controlled from a separate entity that serves the capital function.

Roman colonies first appeared when the Romans conquered neighbouring italic peoples. These were small farming settlements that appeared when the Romans had subdued an enemy in war. A colony could take many forms, as a trade outpost or a military base in enemy territory, but its original definition as a settlement created by people migrating from a home in the world territory became the modern definition.

Colonies in ancient civilizations (examples)[edit]

See Colonies in antiquity.

Modern colonies (historical examples)[edit]

Current colonies[edit]

The Special Committee on Decolonization maintains the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories, which identifies areas the United Nations (though not without controversy) believes are colonies. Given that dependent territories have varying degrees of autonomy and political power in the affairs of the controlling state, there is disagreement over the classification of "colony".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Constitutional Rights Foundation.
  2. ^ Sharon Ann Navarro, and Armando Xavier Mejia, Latino Americans and Political Participation (Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO) 2004. p. 106. ISBN 1-85109-523-3.
  3. ^ Puerto Rico:The Trials of the Oldest Colony in the World. By Jose Trias Monge. Yale University Press. 1997.
  4. ^ James S. Jeffers (1999). The Greco-Roman world of the New Testament era: exploring the background of early Christianity. InterVarsity Press. pp. 52–53. ISBN 978-0-8308-1589-0. 
  5. ^ De Lario, Damaso; de Lario Ramírez, Dámaso (2008). "Philip II and the "Philippine Referendum" of 1599". Re-shaping the world: Philip II of Spain and his time. Ateneo de Manila University Press. ISBN 978-971-550-556-7. 
  6. ^ Ferdinand Magellan claimed the Philippine Islands for Spain in 1521, but it can be argued that Spain's legitimate sovereignty over the islands commenced following a popular referendum in 1599.[5]
  7. ^ a b Tonio Andrade, How Taiwan Became Chinese: Dutch, Spanish, and Han Colonization in the Seventeenth Century, Columbia University Press.

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colony — Please support Wikipedia.
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Wed, 30 Jul 2014 21:59:08 -0700

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USA just announced that it has officially picked up the pilot of Colony, which is described as a “naturalistic drama about a family torn by opposing forces and making difficult choices as they balance staying together with surviving the struggle of the ...
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The Colony will once again join a nationwide effort to encourage neighbors to mingle and form relationships to promote a safer living environment. National Night Out is scheduled for 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday in neighborhoods across the city and nation. So ...

Times of India

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National Post

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The problem became widespread enough that it earned a name: Colony Collapse Disorder, and sent researchers, apiarists, and agriculture experts on a quest to explain what was killing so many bees. Since then, several possible triggers have been ...
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