A protectorate is a state that is controlled and protected by another sovereign state. It is a dependent territory that has been granted local autonomy over most internal affairs while still recognizing the suzerainty of a more powerful sovereign state without being its direct possession. In exchange, the protectorate usually accepts specified obligations depending on the terms of their arrangement. Usually protectorates are established de jure by a treaty. Under certain conditions as of Egypt under British rule (1882–1914) e.g., a state can also be labelled as a de facto protectorate or a "veiled protectorate". A protectorate is different from a colony as they have local rulers, are not directly possessed and rarely experience colonization by the suzerain state. However, some sources term a state that remains under the protection of another state while retaining its independence as a protected state, different from a protectorate, while other sources use the terms like synonyms.


Protectorates form 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.


Foreign relations

In practice, a protectorate often has direct foreign relations only with and transfers the management of all its more important international affairs to the protector. 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 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. For political and pragmatic reasons, the relationship of protection is not usually advertised, but described in euphemisms such as "an independent state with special treaty relations" with the protecting state. A protected state appears on world maps just as any other independent state. 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.

Colonial protection

Conditions regarding protection are generally much less generous for areas of colonial protection. The protectorate was often reduced to a condition similar to a colony, but 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 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. In fact, protectorates were declared despite not being duly entered into by the traditional states supposedly being protected, or only 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, a logic disrespectful of the theoretical duty of a protector to help maintain its protectorates' 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 () sway by protective or "raw" colonial logic.

Amical protection

In amical protection as of United States of the Ionian Islands by Britain, the terms are often very favourable for the protectorate. 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 smaller states that had no significant importance. After 1815, non-Christian states (such as the Chinese Qing dynasty) also provided amical protection towards 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".

Argentine protectorates

*Equatorial Guinea (1810-1815) *Peru (1820–1822) *Gobierno del Cerrito (1843–1851) *Paraguay (1876)

De facto protectorates

*Republic of Tucumán (1820-1821) *National Territory of the Gran Chaco frameless|28x28px (1874-1884) *National Territory of the Tierra del Fuego, Antarctica and South Atlantic Islands frameless|28x28px (1884-1991)

British protectorates and protected states


* Barbados (1627–1652) (as a proprietary colony under William Courteen, followed by James Hay I) * (1655–1860) (over Central America's Miskito Indian nation)

Arab world

* Aden Protectorate (1872–1963); precursor state of South Yemen **Eastern Protectorate States (mostly in Haudhramaut); later the Protectorate of South Arabia (1963–1967) *** Kathiri *** Mahra *** Qu'aiti *** Upper Yafa (consisted of five Sheikhdoms: Al-Busi, Al-Dhubi, Hadrami, Maflahi, and Mawsata) *** Hawra *** Irqa **Western Protectorate States; later the Federation of South Arabia (1959/1962-1967), including Aden Colony *** Wahidi Sultanates (these included: Balhaf, Azzan, Bir Ali, and Habban) *** Beihan *** Dhala and Qutaibi *** Fadhli *** Lahej *** Lower Yafa *** Audhali *** Haushabi *** Upper Aulaqi Sheikhdom *** Upper Aulaqi Sultanate *** Lower Aulaqi *** Alawi *** Aqrabi *** Dathina *** Shaib * Sultanate of Egypt (1914–1922) * Anglo-Egyptian Sudan (1899–1956) (condominium with Egypt) * (1884–1960) * (1922–1936) * British Residency of the Persian Gulf (1822–1971); headquarters based at Bushire, Persia **, protected state (1880–1971) ** Sheikhdom of Kuwait, protected state (1899–1961) ** Qatar (1916–1971) **; precursor state of the UAE, protected states (1892–1971) *** Abu Dhabi (1820–1971) *** Ajman (1820–1971) *** Dubai (1835–1971) *** Fujairah (1952–1971) *** Ras Al Khaimah (1820–1971) *** Sharjah (1820–1971) **** Kalba (1936–1951) *** Umm al-Qaiwain (1820–1971) ** (1892–1977) (informal, protected state)


South Asia

* Cis-Sutlej states (1809–1862) * Maldive Islands (1887–1965) * (1861–1947) *, protected state (1910–1947) *

Rest of Asia

* British North Borneo (1888–1946) * (1888–1984) *, protected state (1879–1919) * Federation of Malaya (1948–1957) ** (1895–1946) *** (1888–1895) **** Sungai Ujong (1874–1888) **** Jelebu (1886–1895)1946) **** Muar (1897–1909) *** (1909–1946) **** Kulim (1894–1909) *** (1909–1946) *** (1909–1946) *** (1909–1946) * (1888–1946) * (1904–1910; 1912–1921)


* British Cyprus (1871–1914) (put under British military administration 1914–22 then proclaimed a Crown Colony 1922–60) * Malta Protectorate (1800–1813); Crown Colony of Malta proclaimed in 1813) (de jure part of the Kingdom of Sicily but under British protection) * Ionian islands (1815-1864) (a Greek state and amical protectorate of Great Britain between 1815 and 1864)

Sub-Saharan Africa

* Protectorate (1900–1964) * Bechuanaland Protectorate (1885–1966) * East Africa Protectorate (1895–1920) * Gambia Colony and Protectorate* (1894–1965) * Kenya Protectorate* (1920–1963) * Northern Nigeria Protectorate* (1900–1914) * (1924–1964) * Gold Coast (British colony) (1902–1957) * Nyasaland Protectorate (1893–1964) ( British Central Africa Protectorate until 1907) * Sierra Leone Protectorate* (1896–1961) * Southern Nigeria Protectorate (1900–1914) * Swaziland (1902–1968) * Uganda Protectorate (1894–1962) * (1890–1963) *protectorates which existed alongside a colony of the same name * (1922–1936)


* (1884–1888) * British Solomon Islands (1893–1978) * Cook Islands (1888–1901) * (1892–1916) * Niue (1900–1901) * Tokelau (1877–1916) * (1900–1970)

Chinese protectorates

* Han dynasty: **Protectorate of the Western Regions *Tang dynasty: **Protectorate General to Pacify the West **Protectorate General to Pacify the North **Protectorate General to Pacify the East *Yuan dynasty: **Goryeo (1270–1356)

Dutch protectorates

*Various sultanates in the Dutch East Indies (present Indonesia) **Trumon Sultanate (1770?), Langkat Sultanate (26 October 1869), Deli Sultanate (22 August 1862), Asahan Sultanate (27 September 1865), Siak Sultanate (1 February 1858) and Indragiri Sultanate (1838?) in Sumatra **Jogjakarta Sultanate (13 February 1755), Mataram Empire and Surakarta Sunanate (26 February 1677), Duchy of Mangkunegara (24 February 1757) and Duchy of Paku Alaman (22 June 1812) in Java. **Sumbawa Sultanate (?) and Bima Sultanate (8 December 1669) in Lesser Sunda Islands. **Pontianak Sultanate (16 August 1819), Sambas Sultanate (1819), Kubu Sultanate (4 June 1823), Landak Sultanate (?), Mempawah Sultanate (?), Matan Sultanate (?), Sanggau Sultanate (?), Sekadau Sultanate (?), Simpang Sultanate (?), Sintang Sultanate (1822), Sukadana Sultanate (?), Kota Waringin Sultanate (?), Kutai Kertanegara Sultanate (8 August 1825), Gunung Tabur Sultanate (?) and Bulungan Sultanate (?) in Borneo. **Gowa Sultanate (1669), Bone Sultanate (?), Sidenreng Sultanate (?), Soppeng Sultanate (?), Butung Sultanate (?), Muna Sultanate (?) and Banggai Sultanate (?) in Celebes. **Ternate (12 October 1676) and Batjan Sultanate (?) in The Moluccas. **Kaimana Sultanate (?) in Dutch New Guinea.

French protectorates

Arab world and Madagascar

*Comoros 21 April 1886 French protectorate (Anjouan) until 25 July 1912 when annexed. *Present Djibouti was originally, since 24 June 1884, the Territory of Obock and Protectorate of Tadjoura (Territoires Français d'Obock, Tadjoura, Dankils et Somalis), a French protectorate recognized by Britain on 9 February 1888, renamed on 20 May 1896 as French Somaliland (Côte Française des Somalis). *Mauritania on 12 May 1903 French protectorate; within Mauritanian several traditional states: **Adrar emirate since 9 January 1909 French protectorate (before Spanish) **The Taganit confederation's emirate (founded by Idaw `Ish dynasty), since 1905 under French protectorate. **Brakna confederation's emirate **Emirate of Trarza: 15 December 1902 placed under French protectorate status. *Morocco – most of the sultanate was under French protectorate (30 March 1912 – 7 April 1956) although, in theory, it remained a sovereign state under the Treaty of Fez; this fact was confirmed by the International Court of Justice in 1952. **The northern part of Morocco was under Spanish protectorate in the same period. *Traditional Madagascar States **Kingdom of Imerina under French protectorate, 6 August 1896. French Madagascar colony, 28 February 1897. *Tunisia (12 May 1881 – 20 March 1956): became a French protectorate by treaty


*French Indochina until 1953/54: **Cambodia 11 August 1863 **Annam and Tonkin 6 June 1884 **Laos 3 October 1893


*Rhenish Republic (1923-1924) *Saar Protectorate (1947–1956), not colonial or amical, but a former part of Germany that would by referendum return to it, in fact a re-edition of a former League of Nations mandate. Most French protectorates were colonial.

Sub-Saharan Africa

The legal regime of "protection" was the formal legal structure under which French colonial forces expanded in Africa between the 1830s and 1900. Almost every pre-existing state in the area later covered by 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 the lowest level authority figure in the French Cercles, with leaders appointed and removed by French officials. *Benin traditional states **Independent of Danhome , under French protectorate, from 1889 **Porto-Novo a French protectorate, 23 February 1863 – 2 January 1865. Cotonou a French Protectorate, 19 May 1868. Porto-Novo French protectorate, 14 April 1882. *Central African Republic traditional states: **French protectorate over Dar al-Kuti (1912 Sultanate suppressed by the French), 12 December 1897 **French protectorate over the Sultanate of Bangassou, 1894 *Burkina Faso was since 20 February 1895 a French protectorate named Upper Volta (Haute-Volta) *Chad: Baghirmi state 20 September 1897 a French protectorate *Côte d'Ivoire: 10 January 1889 French protectorate of Ivory Coast *Guinea: 5 August 1849 French protectorate over coastal region; (Riviéres du Sud). *Niger, Sultanate of Damagaram (Zinder), 30 July 1899 under French protectorate over the native rulers, titled Sarkin Damagaram or Sultan *Senegal: 4 February 1850 First of several French protectorate treaties with local rulers


*French Polynesia , mainly the Society Islands (several others were immediately annexed). 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 *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.

German protectorates

The German Empire used the word ', 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: *German New Guinea *Marshall Islands *Nauru , various officials posted with the Head Chiefs *North Solomon Islands *Samoa, formerly Western Samoa *Sultanate of Witu, called Wituland , in present-day Kenya *German South-West Africa (later Namibia) *Togoland *Rwanda, a Resident with the native Mwami (king) *Urundi, a Resident with the native Mwami (king; 1908 Sultan) Before and during World War II, Nazi Germany designated the rump of occupied Czechoslovakia and Denmark as protectorates: *Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia , 1939–1945 *Denmark , 1940–1943

Indian protectorates

*Sikkim (1948–1975)—Acceded to India as Sikkim

Italian protectorates

In Europe: *The Albanian Republic (1917–1920) and the Albanian Kingdom (1939–1940) *Independent State of Croatia (1941–1943) *Monaco under amical Protectorate of the Kingdom of Sardinia 20 November 1815 to 1860. In the colonial empire: *Ethiopia : 2 May 1889 Treaty of Wuchale, in the Italian language version, stated that Ethiopia was to become an Italian protectorate, while the Ethiopian Amharic language version merely stated that the Emperor could, if he so chose, go through Italy to conduct foreign affairs. When the differences in the versions came to light, Emperor Menelik II abrogated first the article in question (XVII), and later the whole treaty. The event culminated in the First Italo-Ethiopian War, in which Ethiopia was victorious and defended her sovereignty in 1896. *Libya: on 15 October 1912 Italian protectorate declared over Cirenaica (Cyrenaica) until 17 May 1919. *Somalia: 3 August 1889 Benadir Coast Italian protectorate (in the northeast; unoccupied until May 1893), until 16 March 1905 when it changed to Italian Somaliland. **Majeerteen Sultanate since 7 April 1889 under Italian protectorate (renewed 7 April 1895), then in 1927 incorporated into the Italian colony. **Sultanate of Hobyo since December 1888 under Italian protectorate (renewed 11 April 1895), then in October 1925 incorporated into the Italian colony (known as ''Obbia'').

Japanese protectorates

*Korean Empire (1905–1910) *Empire of Manchuria (1932~1945) *Philippines (1942~1945) *Thailand (1939~1945)

Polish protectorates

*Kaffa (1462–1475)

Portuguese protectorates

*Kingdom of Kongo (1390–1914) *Cabinda (Portuguese Congo) (1885–1974)—Portugal first claimed sovereignty over Cabinda in the February 1885 Treaty of Simulambuco, which gave Cabinda the status of a protectorate of the Portuguese Crown under the request of "the princes and governors of Cabinda". *Gaza Empire (1824–1895) *Angoche Sultanate (1903–1910)

Russian protectorates

*Kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti (1783–1801) *Kingdom of Imereti (1804–1810) *Revolutionary Serbia (1807–12) *Principality of Serbia (1826–56) *Principality of Moldavia (1829–56) *Principality of Wallachia (1829–56) *Emirate of Bukhara (1873–1920) *Khanate of Khiva (1873–1920) *Uryankhay Krai (1914) *Second East Turkestan Republic (1944-1949)

De facto protectorates

Some sources mention following states as de facto Russian protectorates: *South Ossetia (1990-) *Transnistria (1992-) *Abkhazia (1994-) *Luhansk People's Republic (2015-) *Donetsk People's Republic (2015-)

Spanish protectorates

*Spanish Morocco protectorate from 27 November 1912 until 2 April 1958 (Northern zone until 7 April 1956, Southern zone (Cape Juby) until 2 April 1958).

Turkish protectorates

*Aceh Sultanate (1569–1903) *Maldives (1560–1590) *Cossack Hetmanate (1669 – 1685)

De facto protectorate

*Northern Cyprus (1983 – )

United States protectorates

*Liberia (1822–1847) *Cuba (1898–1934) *Panama Canal Zone (1903–1979) *Philippines (1935–1946): Under the provisions of the Tydings–McDuffie Act, the territory would become self-governing although its military and foreign affairs would be under the United States.

Contemporary usage by the United States

*Puerto Rico *Northern Mariana Islands *Guam Some agencies of the United States government, such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency, still use the term protectorate to refer to insular areas of the United States such as Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This was also the case with the Philippines and (it can be argued via the Platt Amendment) Cuba at the end of Spanish colonial rule. Liberia was the only African nation that was a colony for the United States but the government had no control over the land as it was controlled by the privately owned American Colonization Society. It was, however, a protectorate from January 7, 1822 until the Liberian Declaration of Independence from the American Colonization Society on July 26, 1847. Liberia was founded and established as a homeland for freed African-Americans and ex-Caribbean slaves who left the United States and the Caribbean islands with help and support from the American Colonization Society. 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.

United Nations protectorates

*East Timor : United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (1999–2002)

Joint protectorates

*The Adriatic Republic of Ragusa (present-day Dubrovnik in Croatian Dalmatia) was a joint Habsburg AustrianOttoman Turkish protectorate from 20 August 1684 to 24 August 1798 (exceptionally both a Catholic and a Muslim protector). *The United States of the Ionian Islands and the Septinsular Republic were federal republics of seven formerly Venetian (see Provveditore) Ionian islands (Corfu, Cephalonia, Zante, Santa Maura, Ithaca, Cerigo, and Paxos), officially under joint protectorate of the Allied Christian Powers, a British amical protectorate from 1815 to 1864.

See also

*British Protected Person *Client state *European Union Police Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina *EUFOR Althea *High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina *Peace Implementation Council *Protector (titles for Heads of State and other individual persons) *Puerto Rico *Tribute




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* {{Authority control Category:Colonialism Category:Constitutional state types Category:Dependent territories Category:Client state