Saturday, July 28, 2012

Parade of Nations: The Twelve Who Were Never Colonized (Ish)

When I was watching the Parade of Nations last night, it occurred to me that around 1/4 of the 206 nations represented in the Parade were once British colonies. (For the record, I did think of this before that picture of Queen Elizabeth went viral.)

That made me wonder, how many of these countries were able to escape colonization entirely? How many of them were never under the sovereign rule of any European power?

So I did a lot of research. The rules are these:
-The country is not on the continent of Europe.
-The country was never ruled by an European country, including Russia and Turkey, from 1400 to the present day (although I'll mess with this rule if I so choose).
-Some of this stuff is subjective. I'm subjecting.
-The country is currently a sovereign, independent state.
-All research comes from Wikipedia; if I write down any historical fact, assume it's from the relevant Wikipedia article. 

The undisputed winners: Liberia, Japan, Thailand, Bhutan and Iran. The area that became Liberia had British, Dutch and Portuguese trading posts, but after the U.S. started sending free blacks and former slaves to Liberia in 1820, the area was never snapped up by any European power. It officially became a country in 1847. Meanwhile, Japan, Thailand and Iran were powerful enough/had strong rulers/didn't enter into "sucker" treaties/and/or played Western powers off against each other to such a degree that they've been able to maintain independence all the way to the present day. Bhutan fought a war or two against the British, lost some territory and political influence, but kept itself autonomous throughout the colonial period.

The rather disputed winners: Nepal, Tonga, China and Ethiopia. Tonga was apparently under the British aegis as a "protected state", had a British consul for seventy years and was part of the "British Western Pacific Territories" for fifty, but it was able to maintain its own indigenous monarchy all the way up to the present day; in other words, it never gave up its right to self-government. Nepal was never a British colony, and in fact fought a war to ensure autonomy from the British Empire; however, they had to cede a third of their country to do it, which is why they're in the "dubious" category.
 Ethiopia was one of only two countries (along with Liberia) to survive the Scramble for Africa more or less intact, but finally fell to Italy in 1936 when Mussolini decided to create his 'New Roman Empire'. The British ejected the Italians in 1941, and the country regained full independence again in 1944. (Eight years isn't so bad; consider the Philippines, for example, who were under Spanish, American and Japanese rule from 1571-1945.) Finally, China was technically never a colony (except for Hong Kong and Macao), but got screwed in so many other different ways by various Western powers (plus the U.S.) that it's hard to label them as a perennially free country with a straight face.

The (maybe) ineligibles: North Korea, South Korea, Mongolia. Back in the day when Korea was one country, it apparently did a decent job resisting the West, but a lousy job resisting Japan, which ruled them for 35 years. Meanwhile, Mongolia was essentially ruled by China throughout the colonial era, and like Korea, was geographically remote from other Western territories or centers of power. Both the Koreas and Mongolia were able to escape rule by the West, but only because they were totally (Mongolia) or partially (Korea) ruled by other powers during that time. I'm not sure if they should get credit for resisting imperialism, given that.


Anonymous said...

Awesome post! Did the same thing once and totally agree. I also always wonder these kind of things.

Anonymous said...

(Same guy from previous post I would also add Afghanistan, probably in the Rather Dispute Winners category, they defended themselves from the british and then got invaded by the Soviets, but I would consider them to have been an actual colony. What do you think?

Andy said...

Hi, and thanks for reading! Rather Disputed seems about right. I just did some very extensive research* and while it seems they ceded control over their foreign policy to the British and had to deal with a ton of British influence, they were never actually a colony and managed to retain some independent control over domestic affairs throughout the colonial period. Good call!


One Ethiopia said...

Please correct your information. Italy was forced to withdraw from Ethiopia by 1941 not 1944. Also it was a continuous fight from 1936 to 1941 for 5 years and it is difficult to say Ethiopia was occupied by Italy during this time.

Anonymous said...

Ethiopia was indeed colonised by Fascist Italy. It was incorporated into Italian East Africa. Furthermore, Ethiopia was also subdued and conquered by the brave warriors of the Adal Sultanate lead by Imam Ahmed Gragn.

"In the 1880s Italy failed to take Abyssinia (as Ethiopia was then known) as a colony. On 3 October 1935 Mussolini ordered a new invasion and on 9 May the following year Abyssinia was annexed by Italy. On 1 June the country was merged with Eritrea and Italian Somalia to form Africa Orientale Italiana (AOI - Italian East Africa).

Emperor Haile Selassie made an impassioned appeal to the League of Nations on 30 June 1936, gaining support from the US and Russia. But many League of Nations members, including Britain and France, recognized Italian colonization.

It was not until 5 May 1941, when Selassie was restored to the Ethiopian throne, that independence was regained."

Here is an important history book entitled Futuh al-Habasha (The Conquest of Abyssinia/Ethiopia):

Contrary to popular opinion, the truth is Liberia was also a colony. It was an artificial nation/colonial project conceived and established by the American Colonization Society.

Here are some quotes regarding this:

"The Republic of Liberia, formerly a colony of the American Colonization Society, declares its independence. Under pressure from Britain, the United States hesitantly accepted Liberian sovereignty, making the West African nation the first democratic republic in African history. A constitution modeled after the U.S. Constitution was approved, and in 1848 Joseph Jenkins Roberts was elected Liberia's first president.

The American Colonization Society was founded in 1816 by American Robert Finley to return freed African American slaves to Africa. In 1820, the first former U.S. slaves arrived at the British colony of Sierra Leone from the United States, and in 1821 the American Colonization Society founded the colony of Liberia south of Sierra Leone as a homeland for former slaves outside British jurisdiction."


"Liberia was a colony for just over 17 years before partial independence was achieved through the declaration of a commonwealth (4 April 1839). True independence was declared eight years later on 26 July 1847.

The American Society for Colonization of Free People of Color of the United States (known simply as the American Colonization Society, ACS) created the Cape Mesurado Colony on the Grain Coast on 15 December 1821. This was further expanded into the Colony of Liberia on 15 August 1824. The ACS was a society initially run by white Americans who believed there was no place for Free Blacks in the US. Its administration was later taken over by Free Blacks."


In conclusion, all of the Dark Continent (including Ethiopia and Liberia) was conquered and colonised.

Anonymous said...

what about saudi arabia? was never colonized

Anonymous said...

re saudi arabia - Ottoman Empire

Anonymous said...

If Italy colonized Ethiopia, then Germany colonized France. Please, note the difference between occupation and true colonization.

Kara Poole said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Can someone tell me who funds colonization? Seriously, I spent so many years of my life trying to control anger towards a particular group of people but I found it increasingly difficult the more I studied my history in America. But as I began to look outside of America and see such a strong pattern on how Europeans methodically turn people against one another, use propaganda and lies, set up a "government" to help push their agenda, and snatch power/money/wealth from indigenous people then say shame on you for asking for handouts. I am slowly moving away from confusion. What is the purpose of trying to take over the world. Like it's still being done today but the word colonization is not used. It's more like, "they are terrorist and they are harming THEIR people, so we have to go and TAKE THEIR LAND....AND RESOURCES....AND CONTROL THEIR PEOPLE." All this time, I've been getting mad at the everyday European that I come in contact with in America for believing the lies and propaganda that they are fed to try and uphold a level of superiority. But I realize, they are just as ignorant as people of color that don't have knowledge or understand history of what is going on. But I go back to my question...who funds these takeovers. I'm not really asking what country....because that doesn't say a particular group. But who.....and why?

Anonymous said...

To the cowards above me, stop being sissies and grow a pair you crybabies. The majority of governments of the world today are controlled by a sinister group of satanists who have bear allegiance to no nation, they are the so-called "Illuminati". Do some research and see for yourself. Ethiopia was indeed colonised by Italy and so was all of the Dark Continent. If anything, colonialism and slavery are divine punishment for the black man's sins. All of this "White guilt" is a smokescreen to lay the blame and responsibility on others. So blacks need to stop playing the race card and blame game and take responsibility for your own actions. The truth is the Europeans are innocent people who have contributed so much to civilisation and humanity: philosophy, literature, art, music, etc. Without them, there would be no world as we know it today.

Anonymous said...

Here are some excellent articles on this topic:

Can Arabs And Whites Be Real Africans?

Colonialism Was Good For Africa

Jamaicans Nostalgic For Colonialism

Poll: Most Jamaicans believe UK rule better

Finally, here is a letter from two black tribal leaders who requested the British to colonise and govern their country:

A letter that King Bell and King Acqua of the Cameroons River, West Africa, wrote on November 6, 1881, to William Gladstone the Liberal Prime Minister of the UK:

Dear W. Gladstone,

We both your servants have met this afternoon to write you these few lines of writing trusting it may find you in a good state of life as it leaves us at present. As we heard here that you are the chief man in the House of Commons, so we write to tell you that we want to be under Her Majesty's control. We want our country to be governed by British Government. We are tired of governing this country ourselves, every dispute leads to war, and often to great loss of lives, so we think it is best thing to give up the country to you British men who no doubt will bring peace, civilization, and Christianity in the country. Do for mercy sake please lay our request before the Queen and to the rulers of the British Government. Do, Sir, for mercy sake, please to assist us in this important undertaking. We heard that you are a good Christian man, so we hope that you will do all you can in your power to see that our request is granted. We are quite willing to abolish all our heathen customs. No doubt God will bless you for putting a light in our country. Please to send us an answer as quick as you can.

King Bell and King Acqua
of the Cameroons River, West Africa
6 November 1881

In conclusion, the politically correct version of history that we are taught in school is based on emotions rather than facts. We are only taught the negative aspects of colonialism, but the truth is colonialism brought a lot of benefit to the world. It transformed tribal societies into nations and nations into cosmopolitan empires. The reality is the Dark Continent was far better off under Western rule. Now it is a mess filled with HIV/AIDs, rape, genocide, and all kinds of other horrors. Without the immense contributions the great European peoples have contributed to humanity, we would not have all of this modern technology we take for granted like automobiles and computers. We would not even be using e-mail or writing on this blog right now. So it is very unfair to blame the "White man" for all your problems, when in reality as adults you are fully responsible for your own actions. One should not play the blame game or point fingers, but rather man up and accept the truth even if it hurts. It is because of these great brave European heroes both famous and nameless who pioneered and explored the world that we have now this endless ocean of knowledge and wisdom at our fingertips by the Grace of God Almighty.

Dan Aspell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan Aspell said...

PS - and even Bhutan - or the area that is now Bhutan was occupied by Tibetans and Chinese.

Anonymous said...

Europeans innocent? They taught and contributed? There were drainage systems, pottery, in fact everything needed for a developed society in Harappa civilization, what did they learn from the Europeans? Why was India colonized by the Brits? Ask a Brit....

Ermias Mekonnen said...

Italy was under constant attack by Ethiopian patriots, and only managed to gain partial control in only the cities from 1936 to 1941. Imam Ahmed Grang was also an Ethiopian; i don't know who told you he wasn't, but he was a Muslim that is why he was thought of as illegitimate ruler, at the time, in a country that had only christian rulers for centuries. He is was a strong and smart Ethiopian Muslim ruler. Get your facts straight @ Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Every country was named by a colonist. We never separated ourselves by geographical locations. We look at the earth as whole. Countries are a strictly for political purposes. Be honest and tell the truth. Who came up with the idea of countries? Who actually decided that a certain part of land was gonna be called this?

Buena Parker said...

It seems to me hard to define "colony". Great sections of China were conquered by other Asiatic peoples that today we would all think of as Chinese, but when the people being conquered by these peoples (the conquerors like the Manchus, etc., were mainly groups from the north of China conquering groups in the south) certainly did not feel themselves to be Chinese prior to being conquered.

Also, can Russia be considered a never-colonized country? I don't know. It certainly fought lots of wars (with China, Japan, Sweden, Germany, not to mention the Cold War and current ethnic wars and its interference in other former Soviet republics) to remain a nation, and it also colonized many, many non-Russian areas (Catherine the Great took Crimea and many other areas for Russia) and others extended Russia far east into Siberia and subjugated the Tatars, Cossacks, Kazaks, Uzbeks, Turkmen, and so many others.

Could one count the former country of Sikkim as never having been colonized, since it succeeded in wars against Nepal, India, the British in remaining an independent state (although for a period the British came to the rescue militarily during the Gurkha War in 1814. In 1975 or so Sikkim voted (there is some dispute about what was being voted for) by overwhelming 97% to abolish its monarchy and became a state of India. Does voluntarily joining another nation count as colonization?

Buena Parker said...

Also, the answer depends on how far back one goes. Iran was conquered by various groups, although not called Iran - the Assyrian, Medes, Acaemenid empires all took turns controlling part of present-day Iran, and let's not forget the conquering of parts of Persia by Alexander the Great - Persia also certainly fell victim to Islamic invaders which pushed out or forcibly converted older (Zorastorian, etc.) religions and peoples practicing them.

Unknown said...

Buena Parker: Sikkim did not remain an independent state from 1853 to 1890; they were ruled by a British governor in all but name.

Anonymous said...

Who do you consider Turkey colonized by?

Anonymous said...

Hey Andy! Can you share your material collected while doing such extensive research? Have you also collected legal documents for making dependent and granting independence ?

arikancelikok said...

By your definition, I believe Iran is not an undisputed winner, as it falls under the same category with Ethiopia. During WW2, the country was under invasion of Soviet and British.
Great article by the way !

OzWaz said...

The HIGH COURT OF AUSTRALIA June 1992 when considering a native title claim [Mabo v Queensland (No 2) HCA 23; 175 CLR 1] made the pronouncement that”… the manner in which a sovereign state might acquire new territory is a matter for international law, …”

International law recognized
• conquest,
• cession, and
• occupation of territory that was 'terra nullius '
as (the only) three effective ways of acquiring sovereignty of territory.
If the full bench of the High Court of Australia understands what is talking about then ‘Colonization’ is the “occupation” option only.
Conquest (the outcome of war) is NOT ‘Colonization’ nor is ‘cession’
So territory acquired by war or by signed treaty - can be removed from you list.
If you didn’t do that, given the last 100,000 years activity by humans, all territory, at some stage or other would have been 'colonized' and not just once but on multiple occasions

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