Countries Never Colonized 2022

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Colonization occurs when one country takes over the lands and people of another country or territory and subjects them to rule by its government instead of their own. For example, the American colonies before the Revolutionary War were land holdings of the British government and ruled by the British king—despite the fact that the Native Americans lived in North America for thousands of years before the European colonists arrived. When one country colonizes another country or territory, it usually exploits the land, resources, and people of the colonized lands for economic gain. Many countries celebrate a national Independence Day to rejoice that they are no longer under colonial rule.

Nearly every country on Earth has been either a colonized territory or a colonizing power at some point in its history (in fact, some countries have been both). Moreover, most of the tiny subset of countries that have not been colonized have had to forcefully repel attempts at colonization. For example, several foreign nations have attempted to colonize Afghanistan, but its rugged terrain and tribalistic culture have thwarted those efforts. Similarly, the British sought to colonize Nepal during the Anglo-Nepalese War of 1814-1816 but were hampered by the mountainous terrain. In the end, the Brits were able to claim some of Nepal's territory, but their attempts to declare the country a British colony were ultimately thwarted.

Countries that have never been colonized:

The term "colonization" means different things to different people. Because of this disparity, the list of countries that have never been colonized varies tremendously from one source to the next. In addition, many lists focus upon countries that were not colonized by European countries—which misrepresents countries that were colonized by a country from Asia or Africa. Ultimately, of all the countries in the world, only one consistently appears on every list of countries that have never been colonized: Japan.

Several other countries appear on various lists. However, they all have events in their history that arguably make them colonies according to one definition or another.

Countries that are often considered "never colonized" but arguably were indeed colonized:

Country Argument against
Afghanistan Never colonized, but occupied and controlled by U.S. 2001-2021.
Bhutan Ceded territory to Britain in 1865, became British protectorate in 1866 and British-controlled "princely state" in 1910.
China Conquered by Mongols in 1200s, who established Yuan dynasty and ruled until 1368 A.D.; Opium wars entrenched U.K. influence and gave U.K. control over Hong Kong from 1841-1997; portions annexed by Japan during WWII.
Ethiopia Avoided becoming Italian colony due to a treaty mistranslation, but annexed by Italy 1939-1944.
Iran Conquered by Greece in fourth century B.C., parts occupied by or ceded to Russia during Russo-Persian Wars, oil rights owned by U.K. for many years.
Liberia Never forcibly colonized, but began as a colony: Founded in 1822 by the American Colonization Society to return freed slaves to their homeland. Recognized as independent in 1862.
Mongolia Absorbed by China's Qing dynasty in 1600s, ruled by China until 1921, then because satellite state of Soviet Union until 1924.
Nepal Avoided outright colonization by Brits, but ceded significant territory and became British protectorate in 1815. Arguably functioned as British puppet state for some time.
North Korea Never colonized by European country, but arguably colonized by Japan during WWII.
Saudi Arabia Varying but significant areas controlled by Ottoman empire from early 1500s-early 1900s.
South Korea Never colonized by European country, but arguably colonized by Japan during WWII.
Thailand Never colonized by European country, but arguably colonized by Japan during WWII.
Tonga British protected state 1900-1970, giving Britain preferential trade terms and control over foreign affairs.

The varied meanings of "colonization"

Countries that have been occupied by a foreign power are often considered to have been colonies. Case in point: Afghanistan was never officially colonized, but some historians say the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan from 2001 to 2021 counts as colonization.

Thailand, known in the nineteenth century as the Kingdom of Siam, was surrounded by the colonized countries of French Indochina (modern-day Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam) and British Burma (modern-day Myanmar). The Siamese king adopted many pro-European customs and developed strong relations with the British to prevent the full colonization of his land. However, Thailand (along with Korea and parts of Mongolia and China) was later occupied by Japan during World War II—which many historians classify as colonization rather than an occupation. This logic can be applied to many countries that were subjugated during World War II, from Italy's annexing of Ethiopia to Germany's conquest of Poland, as well as other wars throughout history.

Similarly, many countries have experienced a de facto colonization, in which their lands and people were exploited for economic gain but the colonizing power did not establish its government in that country. For example, for much of the twentieth century, Britain held the rights to virtually all of the oil under Iran's land. The British government did not officially rule Iran, but it did own the country's most valuable resource, which greatly affected the Iranian government's policies and operations. Likewise, China was never formally colonized, but the Opium Wars of 1839-1842 and 1856-1860 were fought to ensure that British opium merchants had access to Chinese markets.

Today, the effects of colonization can be seen worldwide, in the languages that a given nation's citizens speak (many Africans speak English or French as their primary language), the customs that they hold, and the exports they send out to the world.

Countries Never Colonized 2022

Country 2022 Population
China1,425,887,337
India1,417,173,173
United States338,289,857
Indonesia275,501,339
Pakistan235,824,862
Nigeria218,541,212
Brazil215,313,498
Bangladesh171,186,372
Russia144,713,314
Mexico127,504,125
Japan123,951,692
Ethiopia123,379,924
Philippines115,559,009
Egypt110,990,103
DR Congo99,010,212
Vietnam98,186,856
Iran88,550,570
Turkey85,341,241
Germany83,369,843
Thailand71,697,030
United Kingdom67,508,936
Tanzania65,497,748
France64,626,628
South Africa59,893,885
Italy59,037,474
Myanmar54,179,306
Kenya54,027,487
Colombia51,874,024
South Korea51,815,810
Spain47,558,630
Uganda47,249,585
Sudan46,874,204
Argentina45,510,318
Algeria44,903,225
Iraq44,496,122
Afghanistan41,128,771
Poland39,857,145
Ukraine39,701,739
Canada38,454,327
Morocco37,457,971
Saudi Arabia36,408,820
Angola35,588,987
Uzbekistan34,627,652
Peru34,049,588
Malaysia33,938,221
Yemen33,696,614
Ghana33,475,870
Mozambique32,969,518
Nepal30,547,580
Madagascar29,611,714
Venezuela28,301,696
Ivory Coast28,160,542
Cameroon27,914,536
Niger26,207,977
Australia26,177,413
North Korea26,069,416
Taiwan23,893,394
Burkina Faso22,673,762
Mali22,593,590
Syria22,125,249
Sri Lanka21,832,143
Malawi20,405,317
Zambia20,017,675
Romania19,659,267
Chile19,603,733
Kazakhstan19,397,998
Ecuador18,001,000
Guatemala17,843,908
Chad17,723,315
Somalia17,597,511
Netherlands17,564,014
Senegal17,316,449
Cambodia16,767,842
Zimbabwe16,320,537
Guinea13,859,341
Rwanda13,776,698
Benin13,352,864
Burundi12,889,576
Tunisia12,356,117
Bolivia12,224,110
Belgium11,655,930
Haiti11,584,996
Jordan11,285,869
Dominican Republic11,228,821
Cuba11,212,191
South Sudan10,913,164
Sweden10,549,347
Czech Republic10,493,986
Honduras10,432,860
Greece10,384,971
Azerbaijan10,358,074
Portugal10,270,865
Papua New Guinea10,142,619
Hungary9,967,308
Tajikistan9,952,787
Belarus9,534,954
United Arab Emirates9,441,129
Israel9,038,309
Austria8,939,617
Togo8,848,699
Switzerland8,740,472
Sierra Leone8,605,718
Laos7,529,475
Hong Kong7,488,865
Serbia7,221,365
Nicaragua6,948,392
Libya6,812,341
Bulgaria6,781,953
Paraguay6,780,744
Kyrgyzstan6,630,623
Turkmenistan6,430,770
El Salvador6,336,392
Singapore5,975,689
Republic of the Congo5,970,424
Denmark5,882,261
Slovakia5,643,453
Central African Republic5,579,144
Finland5,540,745
Lebanon5,489,739
Norway5,434,319
Liberia5,302,681
Palestine5,250,072
New Zealand5,185,288
Costa Rica5,180,829
Ireland5,023,109
Mauritania4,736,139
Oman4,576,298
Panama4,408,581
Kuwait4,268,873
Croatia4,030,358
Georgia3,744,385
Eritrea3,684,032
Uruguay3,422,794
Mongolia3,398,366
Moldova3,272,996
Puerto Rico3,252,407
Bosnia And Herzegovina3,233,526
Albania2,842,321
Jamaica2,827,377
Armenia2,780,469
Lithuania2,750,055
Gambia2,705,992
Qatar2,695,122
Botswana2,630,296
Namibia2,567,012
Gabon2,388,992
Lesotho2,305,825
Slovenia2,119,844
Guinea Bissau2,105,566
North Macedonia2,093,599
Latvia1,850,651
Equatorial Guinea1,674,908
Trinidad And Tobago1,531,044
Bahrain1,472,233
Timor Leste1,341,296
Estonia1,326,062
Mauritius1,299,469
Cyprus1,251,488
Eswatini1,201,670
Djibouti1,120,849
Reunion974,052
Fiji929,766
Comoros836,774
Guyana808,726
Bhutan782,455
Solomon Islands724,273
Macau695,168
Luxembourg647,599
Montenegro627,082
Suriname618,040
Cape Verde593,149
Western Sahara575,986
Malta533,286
Maldives523,787
Brunei449,002
Bahamas409,984
Belize405,272
Guadeloupe395,752
Iceland372,899
Martinique367,507
Vanuatu326,740
Mayotte326,101
French Polynesia306,279
French Guiana304,557
New Caledonia289,950
Barbados281,635
Sao Tome And Principe227,380
Samoa222,382
Curacao191,163
Saint Lucia179,857
Guam171,774
Kiribati131,232
Grenada125,438
Micronesia114,164
Jersey110,778
Seychelles107,118
Tonga106,858
Aruba106,445
Saint Vincent And the Grenadines103,948
United States Virgin Islands99,465
Antigua And Barbuda93,763
Isle of Man84,519
Andorra79,824
Dominica72,737
Cayman Islands68,706
Bermuda64,184
Guernsey63,301
Greenland56,466
Faroe Islands53,090
Northern Mariana Islands49,551
Saint Kitts And Nevis47,657
Turks And Caicos Islands45,703
American Samoa44,273
Sint Maarten44,175
Marshall Islands41,569
Liechtenstein39,327
Monaco36,469
San Marino33,660
Gibraltar32,649
Saint Martin31,791
British Virgin Islands31,305
Palau18,055
Cook Islands17,011
Anguilla15,857
Nauru12,668
Wallis And Futuna11,572
Tuvalu11,312
Saint Barthelemy10,967
Saint Pierre And Miquelon5,862
Montserrat4,390
Falkland Islands3,780
Niue1,934
Tokelau1,871
Vatican City510

Countries Never Colonized 2022

Sources