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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A protectorate, in the context of international relations, is a state that is under protection by another state for defence against aggression and other violations of law.[1] It is a dependent territory that enjoys autonomy over most of its internal affairs, while still recognizing the suzerainty of a more powerful sovereign state without being a possession.[2][3][4] In exchange, the protectorate usually accepts specified obligations depending on the terms of their arrangement.[4] Usually protectorates are established de jure by a treaty.[2][3] Under certain conditions—as with Egypt under British rule (1882–1914)—a state can also be labelled as a de facto protectorate or a veiled protectorate.[5][6][7]

A protectorate is different from a colony as it has local rulers, is not directly possessed, and rarely experiences colonization by the suzerain state.[8][9] A state that is under the protection of another state while retaining its "international personality" is called a "protected state", not a protectorate.[10][a]

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Protectorates are one of the oldest features of international relations, dating back to the Roman Empire. Civitates foederatae were cities that were subordinate to Rome for their foreign relations. In the Middle Ages, Andorra was a protectorate of France and Spain. Modern protectorate concepts were devised in the nineteenth century.[11]


Foreign relations

In practice, a protectorate often has direct foreign relations only with the protector state, and transfers the management of all its more important international affairs to the latter.[12][4][2][3] Similarly, the protectorate rarely takes military action on its own but relies on the protector for its defence. This is distinct from annexation, in that the protector has no formal power to control the internal affairs of the protectorate.

Protectorates differ from League of Nations mandates and their successors, United Nations Trust Territories, whose administration is supervised, in varying degrees, by the international community. A protectorate formally enters into the protection through a bilateral agreement with the protector, while international mandates are stewarded by the world community-representing body, with or without a de facto administering power.

Protected state

A protected state has a form of protection where it continues to retain an "international personality" and enjoys an agreed amount of independence in conducting its foreign policy.[10][13]

For political and pragmatic reasons, the protection relationship is not usually advertised, but described with euphemisms such as "an independent state with special treaty relations" with the protecting state.[14] A protected state appears on world maps just as any other independent state.[a]

International administration of a state can also be regarded as an internationalized form of protection, where the protector is an international organisation rather than a state.[15]

Colonial protection

Multiple regions—such as the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria, the Colony and Protectorate of Lagos, and similar—were subjects of colonial protection.[16][17] Conditions of protection are generally much less generous for areas of colonial protection. The protectorate was often reduced to a de facto condition similar to a colony, but with the pre-existing native state continuing as the agent of indirect rule. Occasionally, a protectorate was established by another form of indirect rule: a chartered company, which becomes a de facto state in its European home state (but geographically overseas), allowed to be an independent country with its own foreign policy and generally its own armed forces.[citation needed]

In fact, protectorates were often declared despite no agreement being duly entered into by the state supposedly being protected, or only agreed to by a party of dubious authority in those states. Colonial protectors frequently decided to reshuffle several protectorates into a new, artificial unit without consulting the protectorates, without being mindful of the theoretical duty of a protector to help maintain a protectorate's status and integrity. The Berlin agreement of February 26, 1885, allowed European colonial powers to establish protectorates in Black Africa (the last region to be divided among them) by diplomatic notification, even without actual possession on the ground. This aspect of history is referred to as the Scramble for Africa. A similar case is the formal use of such terms as colony and protectorate for an amalgamation—convenient only for the colonizer or protector—of adjacent territories, over which it held (de facto) sway by protective or "raw" colonial power.[citation needed]

Amical protection

In amical protection—as of United States of the Ionian Islands by Britain—the terms are often very favourable for the protectorate.[18][19] The political interest of the protector is frequently moral (a matter of accepted moral obligation, prestige, ideology, internal popularity, or dynastic, historical, or ethnocultural ties). Also, the protector's interest is in countering a rival or enemy power—such as preventing the rival from obtaining or maintaining control of areas of strategic importance. This may involve a very weak protectorate surrendering control of its external relations but may not constitute any real sacrifice, as the protectorate may not have been able to have a similar use of them without the protector's strength.

Amical protection was frequently extended by the great powers to other Christian (generally European) states, and to states of no significant importance.[ambiguous] After 1815, non-Christian states (such as the Chinese Qing dynasty) also provided amical protection of other, much weaker states.

In modern times, a form of amical protection can be seen as an important or defining feature of microstates. According to the definition proposed by Dumienski (2014): "microstates are modern protected states, i.e. sovereign states that have been able to unilaterally depute certain attributes of sovereignty to larger powers in exchange for benign protection of their political and economic viability against their geographic or demographic constraints".[20]

Argentina's protectorates

De facto

Brazil's protectorates

British Empire's protectorates and protected states



South Asia

Western Asia


1960 stamp of Bechuanaland Protectorate with the portraits of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II

*protectorates which existed alongside a colony of the same name

De facto


East and Southeast Asia

China's protectorates

Dutch Empire's protectorates

Various sultanates in the Dutch East Indies (present day Indonesia):[35][36][37]


Riau Archipelago




Flores & Solor

  • Larantuka (1860–1904)
  • Tanah Kuna Lima (1917–1924)
  • Ndona (1917–1924)
  • Sikka (1879–c. 1947)



  • Gowa Sultanate (1669–1906; 1936–1949)
  • Bone Sultanate (1669–1905)
  • Bolaang Mongonduw (1825–c. 1949)
  • Laiwui (1858–c. 1949)
  • Luwu (1861–c. 1949)
  • Soppeng (1860–c. 1949)
  • Butung (1824–c. 1949)
  • Siau (1680–c. 1949)
  • Banggai (1907–c. 1949)
  • Tallo (1668–1780)
  • Wajo (1860–c. 1949)
  • Tabukan (1677–c. 1949)

Ajattappareng Confederacy (1905–c. 1949)

  • Malusetasi
  • Rapang
  • Swaito (union of Sawito & Alita, 1908)
  • Sidenreng
  • Supa

Mabbatupappeng Confederacy (1906–c. 1949)

  • Barru
  • Soppengriaja (union of Balusu, Kiru, & Kamiri, 1906)
  • Tanette

Mandar Confederacy (1906–c. 1949)

Massenrempulu Confederacy (1905–c. 1949)

The Moluccas

West Timor & Alor

  • Amanatun (1749–c. 1949)
  • Amanuban (1749–c. 1949)
  • Amarasi (1749–c. 1949)
  • Amfoan (1683–c. 1949)
  • Beboki (1756–c. 1949)
  • Belu (1756–c.1949)
  • Insana (1756–c.1949)
  • Sonbai Besar (1756–1906)
  • Sonbai Kecil (1659–1917)
  • Roti (Korbafo before 1928) (c. 1750–c.1949)
  • TaEbenu (1688–1917)

New Guinea

France's protectorates and protected states


"Protection" was the formal legal structure under which French colonial forces expanded in Africa between the 1830s and 1900. Almost every pre-existing state that was later part of French West Africa was placed under protectorate status at some point, although direct rule gradually replaced protectorate agreements. Formal ruling structures, or fictive recreations of them, were largely retained—as with the low-level authority figures in the French Cercles—with leaders appointed and removed by French officials.[38]



1 Sapèque – Protectorate of Tonkin (1905)



  • French Polynesia French Polynesia, mainly the Society Islands (several others were immediately annexed).[41] All eventually were annexed by 1889.
    • Otaheiti (native king styled Ari`i rahi) becomes a French protectorate known as Tahiti, 1842–1880
    • Raiatea and Tahaa (after temporary annexation by Otaheiti; (title Ari`i) a French protectorate, 1880)
    • Mangareva (one of the Gambier Islands; ruler title `Akariki) a French protectorate, 16 February 1844 (unratified) and 30 November 1871[42]
  • Wallis and Futuna:
    • Wallis declared to be a French protectorate by King of Uvea and Captain Mallet, 4 November 1842. Officially in a treaty becomes a French protectorate, 5 April 1887.
    • Sigave and Alo on the islands of Futuna and Alofi signed a treaty establishing a French protectorate on 16 February 1888.

Germany's protectorates and protected states

5000 kronenProtectorate of Bohemia and Moravia (1939–1945)

The German Empire used the word Schutzgebiet, literally protectorate, for all of its colonial possessions until they were lost during World War I, regardless of the actual level of government control. Cases involving indirect rule included:

Before and during World War II, Nazi Germany designated the rump of occupied Czechoslovakia and Denmark as protectorates:

India's protectorates

Italy's protectorates and protected states

Japan's protectorates

Poland's protectorates

Portugal's protectorates

Russia's and the Soviet Union's protectorates and protected states

De facto

Some sources mention the following territories as de facto Russian protectorates:

Spain's protectorates

Turkey's and the Ottoman Empire's protectorates and protected states

De facto

United Nations' protectorates

United States' protectorates and protected states

After becoming independent nations in 1902 and 1903 respectively, Cuba and Panama became protectorates of the United States. In 1903, Cuba and the U.S. signed the Cuban–American Treaty of Relations, which affirmed the provisions of the Platt Amendment, including that the U.S. had the right to intervene in Cuba to preserve its independence, among other reasons (the Platt Amendment had also been integrated into the 1901 constitution of Cuba). Later that year, Panama and the U.S. signed the Hay–Bunau-Varilla Treaty, which established the Panama Canal Zone and gave the U.S. the right to intervene in the cities of Panama and Colón (and the adjacent territories and harbors) for the maintenance of public order. The 1904 constitution of Panama, in Article 136, also gave the U.S. the right to intervene in any part of Panama "to reestablish public peace and constitutional order." Haiti later also became a protectorate after the ratification of the Haitian–American Convention (which gave the U.S. the right to intervene in Haiti for a period of ten years, which was later expanded to twenty years through an additional agreement in 1917) on September 16, 1915.

The United States also attempted to establish protectorates over the Dominican Republic[54] as well as other Central American nations such as Nicaragua through the Bryan–Chamorro Treaty.

De facto

Contemporary usage by the United States

Some agencies of the United States government, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, refer to the District of Columbia and insular areas of the United States—such as American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands—as protectorates.[58] However, the agency responsible for the administration of those areas, the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) within the United States Department of Interior, uses only the term "insular area" rather than protectorate.

Joint protectorates

See also


  1. ^ a b Protected state in this technical sense is distinguished from the informal usage of "protected state" to refer to a state receiving protection.
  2. ^ Some scholars regard the relationship as one of Priest-patron rather than a protectorate.[32][33][34]


  1. ^ Hoffmann, Protectorates (1987), p. 336.
  2. ^ a b c Fuess, Albrecht (1 January 2005). "Was Cyprus a Mamluk protectorate? Mamluk policies toward Cyprus between 1426 and 1517". Journal of Cyprus Studies. 11 (28–29): 11–29. ISSN 1303-2925. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  3. ^ a b c Reisman, W. (1 January 1989). "Reflections on State Responsibility for Violations of Explicit Protectorate, Mandate, and Trusteeship Obligations". Michigan Journal of International Law. 10 (1): 231–240. ISSN 1052-2867. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  4. ^ a b c Bojkov, Victor D. "Democracy in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Post-1995 political system and its functioning" (PDF). Southeast European Politics 4.1: 41–67.
  5. ^ Leys, Colin (2014). "The British ruling class". Socialist Register. 50. ISSN 0081-0606. Retrieved 23 October 2020.
  6. ^ Kirkwood, Patrick M. (21 July 2016). ""Lord Cromer's Shadow": Political Anglo-Saxonism and the Egyptian Protectorate as a Model in the American Philippines". Journal of World History. 27 (1): 1–26. doi:10.1353/jwh.2016.0085. ISSN 1527-8050. S2CID 148316956. Retrieved 23 October 2020.
  7. ^ Rubenson, Sven (1966). "Professor Giglio, Antonelli and Article XVII of the Treaty of Wichale". The Journal of African History. 7 (3): 445–457. doi:10.1017/S0021853700006526. ISSN 0021-8537. JSTOR 180113. S2CID 162713931. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  8. ^ Archer, Francis Bisset (1967). The Gambia Colony and Protectorate: An Official Handbook. Psychology Press. ISBN 978-0-7146-1139-6.
  9. ^ Johnston, Alex. (1905). "The Colonization of British East Africa". Journal of the Royal African Society. 5 (17): 28–37. ISSN 0368-4016. JSTOR 715150. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  10. ^ a b Meijknecht, Towards International Personality (2001), p. 42.
  11. ^ Willigen, Peacebuilding and International Administration (2013), p. 16.
  12. ^ Yoon, Jong-pil (17 August 2020). "Establishing expansion as a legal right: an analysis of French colonial discourse surrounding protectorate treaties". History of European Ideas. 46 (6): 811–826. doi:10.1080/01916599.2020.1722725. ISSN 0191-6599. S2CID 214425740. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  13. ^ Willigen, Peacebuilding and International Administration (2013), p. 16: "First, protected states are entities which still have substantial authority in their internal affairs, retain some control over their foreign policy, and establish their relation to the protecting state on a treaty or another legal instrument. Protected states still have qualifications of statehood."
  14. ^ a b c d e f g Onley, The Raj Reconsidered (2009), p. 50.
  15. ^ Willigen, Peacebuilding and International Administration (2013), pp. 16–17.
  16. ^ Onah, Emmanuel Ikechi (9 January 2020). "Nigeria: A Country Profile". Journal of International Studies. 10: 151–162. doi:10.32890/jis.10.2014.7954. ISSN 2289-666X. S2CID 226175755. Retrieved 21 September 2021.
  17. ^ Moloney, Alfred (1890). "Notes on Yoruba and the Colony and Protectorate of Lagos, West Africa". Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society and Monthly Record of Geography. 12 (10): 596–614. doi:10.2307/1801424. ISSN 0266-626X. JSTOR 1801424. Retrieved 21 September 2021.
  18. ^ Wick, Alexis (2016), The Red Sea: In Search of Lost Space, Univ of California Press, pp. 133–, ISBN 978-0-520-28592-7
  19. ^ Αλιβιζάτου, Αικατερίνη (12 March 2019). "Use of GIS in analyzing archaeological sites: the case study of Mycenaean Cephalonia, Greece". University of Peloponnese. Retrieved 2 July 2022.
  20. ^ Dumieński, Zbigniew (2014). Microstates as Modern Protected States: Towards a New Definition of Micro-Statehood (PDF) (Report). Occasional Paper. Centre for Small State Studies. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 2 July 2022.
  21. ^ Cunningham, Joseph Davy (1849). A History of the Sikhs: From the Origin of the Nation to the Battles of the Sutlej. John Murray.
  22. ^ Meyer, William Stevenson (1908). "Ferozepur district". The Imperial Gazetteer of India. Vol. XII. p. 90. But the British Government, established at Delhi since 1803, intervened with an offer of protection to all the CIS-SUTLEJ STATES; and Dhanna Singh gladly availed himself of the promised aid, being one of the first chieftains to accept British protection and control.
  23. ^ Mullard, Saul (2011), Opening the Hidden Land: State Formation and the Construction of Sikkimese History, BRILL, p. 184, ISBN 978-90-04-20895-7
  24. ^ "Timeline – Story of Independence". Archived from the original on 2019-07-27. Retrieved 2020-05-11.
  25. ^ Francis Carey Owtram (1999). "Oman and the West: State Formation in Oman since 1920" (PDF). University of London. Retrieved 31 October 2020.
  26. ^ Onley, The Raj Reconsidered (2009), pp. 50–51.
  27. ^ a b Onley, The Raj Reconsidered (2009), p. 51.
  28. ^ "A History of Korea: From Antiquity to the Present, by Michael J. Seth", p112
  29. ^ Goldstein, Melvyn C. (April 1995), Tibet, China and the United States (PDF), The Atlantic Council, p. 3 – via Case Western Reserve University
  30. ^ Norbu, Dawa (2001), China's Tibet Policy, Routledge, p. 78, ISBN 978-1-136-79793-4
  31. ^ Lin, Hsaio-ting (2011). Tibet and Nationalist China's Frontier: Intrigues and Ethnopolitics, 1928–49. UBC Press. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-7748-5988-2.
  32. ^ Sloane, Robert D. (Spring 2002), "The Changing Face of Recognition in International Law: A Case Study of Tibet", Emory International Law Review, 16 (1), note 93, p. 135: "This ["priest-patron"] relationship reemerged during China's prolonged domination by the Manchu Ch'ing dynasty (1611–1911)." – via Hein Online
  33. ^ Karan, P. P. (2015), "Suppression of Tibetan Religious Heritage", in S.D. Brunn (ed.), The Changing World Religion Map, Spriger Science, p. 462, doi:10.1007/978-94-017-9376-6_23, ISBN 978-94-017-9375-9
  34. ^ Sinha, Nirmal C. (May 1964), "Historical Status of Tibet" (PDF), Bulletin of Tibetology, 1 (1): 27
  35. ^ "Indonesian traditional polities". Retrieved 2024-01-16.
  36. ^ "Indonesian Traditional States part 1". Retrieved 2024-01-16.
  37. ^ "Indonesian Traditional States Part 2". Retrieved 2024-01-17.
  38. ^ See the classic account on this in Robert Delavignette. Freedom and Authority in French West Africa. London: Oxford University Press, (1950). The more recent standard studies on French expansion include:
    Robert Aldrich. Greater France: A History of French Overseas Expansion. Palgrave MacMillan (1996) ISBN 0-312-16000-3.
    Alice L. Conklin. A Mission to Civilize: The Republican Idea of Empire in France and West Africa 1895–1930. Stanford: Stanford University Press (1998), ISBN 978-0-8047-2999-4.
    Patrick Manning. Francophone Sub-Saharan Africa, 1880–1995. Cambridge University Press (1998) ISBN 0-521-64255-8.
    Jean Suret-Canale. Afrique Noire: l'Ere Coloniale (Editions Sociales, Paris, 1971); Eng. translation, French Colonialism in Tropical Africa, 1900 1945. (New York, 1971).
  39. ^ Bedjaoui, Mohammed (1 January 1991). International Law: Achievements and Prospects. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. ISBN 9231027166 – via Google Books.
  40. ^ Capaldo, Giuliana Ziccardi (1 January 1995). Repertory of Decisions of the International Court of Justice (1947–1992). Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. ISBN 0792329937 – via Google Books.
  41. ^ C. W. Newbury. Aspects of French Policy in the Pacific, 1853–1906. The Pacific Historical Review, Vol. 27, No. 1 (Feb., 1958), pp. 45–56
  42. ^ Gonschor, Lorenz Rudolf (August 2008). Law as a Tool of Oppression and Liberation: Institutional Histories and Perspectives on Political Independence in Hawaiʻi, Tahiti Nui/French Polynesia and Rapa Nui (Thesis). Honolulu: University of Hawaii at Manoa. pp. 56–59. hdl:10125/20375.
  43. ^ a b Gründer, Horst (2004). Geschichte der deutschen Kolonien (in German). Schöningh. ISBN 978-3-8252-1332-9.
  44. ^ Hoffmann, Protectorates (1987), pp. 336–339.
  45. ^ a b Gerrits, Andre W. M.; Bader, Max (2 July 2016). "Russian patronage over Abkhazia and South Ossetia: implications for conflict resolution". East European Politics. 32 (3): 297–313. doi:10.1080/21599165.2016.1166104. hdl:1887/73992. ISSN 2159-9165. S2CID 156061334.
  46. ^ Pieńkowski, Jakub (2016). "Renewal of Negotiations on Resolving the Transnistria Conflict". Central and Eastern European Online Library (CEEOL). Retrieved 3 July 2022.
  47. ^ Greene, Sam (26 April 2019). "Putin's 'Passportization' Move Aimed At Keeping the Donbass Conflict on Moscow's Terms". The Moscow Times. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  48. ^ Robinson, Paul (1 October 2016). "Russia's role in the war in Donbass, and the threat to European security". European Politics and Society. 17 (4): 506–521. doi:10.1080/23745118.2016.1154229. ISSN 2374-5118. S2CID 155529950.
  49. ^ "Putin's Karabakh victory sparks alarm in Ukraine". Atlantic Council. 12 November 2020. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  50. ^ Goble, Paul (25 November 2020). "Nagorno-Karabakh Now A Russian Protectorate – OpEd". Eurasia Review. Retrieved 21 September 2021.
  51. ^ Socor, Vladimir. "Russia's 'Peacekeeping' Operation in Karabakh: Foundation of a Russian Protectorate (Part Two)". Jamestown. Retrieved 21 September 2021.
  52. ^ "From the Archive 1999: Timor the defiant". The Sydney Morning Herald. 30 August 2019.
  53. ^ "East Timor". Human Rights Watch.
  54. ^ "Dominican Republic, 1916-1924". U.S. Department of State Archive.
  55. ^ "Platt Amendment (1903)". National Archives. September 15, 2021.
  56. ^ Gould, Lewis L. (4 October 2016). "William McKinley: Foreign Affairs". Miller Center.
  57. ^ Aguilar, Filomeno V. (2000). "The Republic of Negros". Philippine Studies. 48 (1): 26–52. ISSN 0031-7837. JSTOR 42634352.
  58. ^ "Notice of Finding of Failure To Submit State Plans for the Municipal Solid Waste Landfills Emission Guidelines". Environmental Protection Agency. 12 March 2020.


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