Colonization occurs when one country takes over the lands and people of another country and creates its own government. The American colonies before the Revolutionary War were land holdings of the British government that the British king had control over. Yet there were other people here before the colonists arrived, the Native Americans. When a country colonizes another country, it usually exploits the land, resources, and people for economic gain. Many countries celebrate Independence Day to rejoice that they are no longer under colonial rule.
Very few countries have never been either a colonizing power or become colonized. They include Saudi Arabia, Iran, Thailand, China, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, and Ethiopia. Despite never becoming fully colonized, many of these countries had to fight back attempts at colonization. For example, the British tried to colonize Nepal, but the mountainous terrain that the Nepalese were used to was insurmountable to the British army. Similarly, several powers have attempted to colonize Afghanistan, but its rugged terrain and tribalistic culture have made colonization impossible.
Other countries on this list have experienced a de facto colonization, in which their lands and people were exploited for economic gain. However, the colonizing power did not establish its government in that country. For example, for much of the twentieth century, Britain had the rights to virtually all of the oil under Iran's land. The British government did not officially rule Iran, but it did affect most of the government's policy because it owned the country's most valuable resource. Likewise, China was never colonized formally, but the Opium Wars were fought to ensure that British opium merchants had access to Chinese markets.
Despite attempts at colonization, Thailand was never colonized. Known as the Kingdom of Siam, in the nineteenth century, it was surrounded by the colonized countries of French Indochina and British Burma. The Siamese king adopted many pro-European customs and developed strong relations with the British to prevent the full colonization of his land. Several countries had attempted to colonize Ethiopia, particularly before World War I when European powers colonized Africa. However, the king managed to play the would-be colonizers off of each other and save his country from colonization.
Today, the effects of colonization can be seen worldwide, in the languages that people speak (many Africans speak English or French as their primary language), the customs that they hold, and the exports they send.