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A colonial empire is a collective of territories (often called ), mostly overseas, settled by the population of a certain and governed by that state.

Colonial empires first emerged with a race of exploration between the then most advanced maritime powers, and , during the 15th century.Encarta-encyclopedie Winkler Prins (1993–2002) s.v. "kolonie geschiedenis. §1.2 De moderne koloniale expansie". Microsoft Corporation/Het Spectrum. The initial impulse behind these dispersed maritime empires and those that followed was , driven by the new ideas and the that grew out of the European . Agreements were also made to divide the world up between them in 1479, , and 1494. European was born out of competition between European Christians and Ottoman Muslims, the latter of which rose up quickly in the 14th century and forced the Spanish and Portuguese to seek new trade routes to India, and to a lesser extent, China.

Although colonies existed in classical antiquity, especially amongst the and the who settled many islands and coasts of the Mediterranean Sea, these colonies were politically independent from the city-states they originated from, and thus did not constitute a colonial empire.Encarta, s.v. "kolonie geschiedenis. §1.1 Oudheid.


European colonial empires
Portugal began establishing the first global trade network and empire under the leadership of Henry the Navigator. The empire spread throughout a vast number of territories distributed across the globe (especially at one time in the 16th century) that are now parts of 60 different sovereign states. Portugal would eventually control , territories such as what is now Uruguay and some fishing ports in north, in the ; Angola, Mozambique, Portuguese Guinea, and São Tomé and Príncipe (among other territories and bases) in the and the Subsaharan ; cities, forts or territories in all the Subcontinents, as Muscat, and (amongst other bases) in the ; , and Daman and Diu (amongst other coastal cities) in ; Portuguese Ceylon; Malacca, bases in Southeast Asia and , as , , , and others in the , ; and the granted entrepôt-base of and the entrepôt-enclave of () in , amongst other smaller or short-lived possessions.

During its Siglo de Oro, the had possession of the , , , most of , parts of , parts of , and many colonies in the Americas, Africa, and Asia. With the conquest of inland , , and the in the 16th century, established overseas dominions on a scale that had never been approached by its predecessors (the Mongol Empire had been larger but was restricted to Eurasia), and with the (1580), reached the widest scale in history until then in world distribution. Possessions in Europe, Africa, the , the Americas, the , and East Asia qualified the Spanish Empire as attaining a global presence.

From 1580 to 1640 the Portuguese Empire and the Spanish Empire were conjoined in a of its Habsburg monarchs during the period of the Iberian Union, but beneath the highest level of government, their separate administrations were maintained.

Subsequent colonial empires included the French, English, and empires. By the mid-17th century, the Tsardom of Russia, continued later as the and the , became the largest contiguous state in the world, and the modern Russian Federation continues to be so to this day. Russia today has nine , stretching across about half of the world's longitude.

The , consolidated during the period of British maritime hegemony in the 19th century, became the largest empire in history by virtue of the improved transportation technologies of the time. At its height, the British Empire covered a quarter of the 's land area and comprised a quarter of its population. During the , Italy and Germany also built their colonial empires in Africa.

After the in 1901, Imperial China made concessions to the Eight-Nation Alliance (all the of the time). By the end of the 20th century most of the previous colonial empires had been .


Timeline
The chart below shows the span of European colonial empires.
  • Black lines mark the year of the empires largest territorial extent of land area.
  • Red represents the empire is a .
  • Blue represents the empire is a .
ImageSize = width:750 height:450 PlotArea = width:650 height:350 left:50 bottom:50

DateFormat = yyyy Period = from:1400 till:2000 TimeAxis = orientation:vertical ScaleMajor = unit:year increment:50 start:1400

  1. there is no automatic collision detection,
  2. so shift texts up or down manually to avoid overlap

Colors=

 id:red  value:red
     

Define $dx = 25 # shift text to right side of bar Define $dy = -5 # adjust height

PlotData=

 bar:Belgian color:red width:25 mark:(line,white) align:left fontsize:7
 from:1885  till:1962 shift:($dx,-2)    color:red
 at:1928 mark: (line,black)
     

 bar:British color:red width:25 mark:(line,white) align:left fontsize:7
 from:1707  till:1997 shift:($dx,-2)    color:red
 at:1920 mark: (line,black)
     

 bar:Danish color:red width:25 mark:(line,white) align:left fontsize:7
 from:1536  till:1953 shift:($dx,-2)    color:red
 at:1810 mark: (line,black)
     

 bar:Dutch color:red width:25 mark:(line,white) align:left fontsize:7
 from:1602  till:1806 shift:($dx,-2)    color:blue
 from:1806  till:1975 shift:($dx,-2)    color:red
 at:1806 mark: (line,red)
     

 bar:English color:red width:25 mark:(line,white) align:left fontsize:7
 from:1585  till:1649 shift:($dx,-2)    color:red
 from:1649  till:1660 shift:($dx,-2)    color:blue
 from:1660  till:1707 shift:($dx,-2)    color:red
 at:1649 mark: (line,blue)
 at:1660 mark: (line,red)
 at:1707 mark: (line,black)
     

 bar:French color:red width:25 mark:(line,white) align:left fontsize:7
 from:1534  till:1792 shift:($dx,-2)    color:red
 from:1792  till:1814 shift:($dx,-2)    color:blue
 from:1814  till:1870 shift:($dx,-2)    color:red
 from:1870  till:1980 shift:($dx,-2)    color:blue
 at:1792 mark: (line,blue)
 at:1814 mark: (line,red)
 at:1870 mark: (line,blue)
 at:1920 mark: (line,black)
     

 bar:German color:red width:25 mark:(line,white) align:left fontsize:7
 from:1884  till:1918 shift:($dx,-2)    color:red
 at:1912 mark: (line,black)
     

 bar:Italian color:red width:25 mark:(line,white) align:left fontsize:7
 from:1885  till:1946 shift:($dx,-2)    color:red
 from:1946  till:1960 shift:($dx,-2)    color:blue
 at:1946 mark: (line,blue)
 at:1939 mark: (line,black)
     

 bar:Portuguese color:red width:25 mark:(line,white) align:left fontsize:7
 from:1415  till:1999 shift:($dx,-2)    color:red
 from:1910  till:1999 shift:($dx,-2)    color:blue
 at:1910 mark: (line,blue)
 at:1815 mark: (line,black)
     

 bar:Russian color:red width:25 mark:(line,white) align:left fontsize:7
 from:1721  till:1917 shift:($dx,-2)    color:red
 at:1895 mark: (line,black)
     

 bar:Spanish color:red width:25 mark:(line,white) align:left fontsize:7
 from:1492  till:1931 shift:($dx,-2)    color:red
 from:1931  till:1947 shift:($dx,-2)    color:blue
 from:1947  till:1975 shift:($dx,-2)    color:red
 at:1873 mark: (line,blue)
 at:1874 mark: (line,blue)
 at:1931 mark: (line,blue)
 at:1810 mark: (line,black)
 at:1947 mark: (line,blue)
     

 bar:Swedish color:red width:25 mark:(line,white) align:left fontsize:7
 from:1638  till:1663 shift:($dx,-2)    color:red
 from:1784  till:1878 shift:($dx,-2)    color:red
 at:1658 mark: (line,black)
     


List of colonial empires
:
  • Belgian Empire (1885–1962)
  • (1707–1997/present)
    • Evolution of the British Empire
    • British colonization of the Americas
    • East India Company and
    • Territories and mandates under Australian administration (1901–present)
      • The , itself a colony that gradually increased its independence in 1901, 1942 and 1986, was tasked with the government of multiple other British colonies and territories and the mandates of New Guinea and Nauru
    • Realm of New Zealand (1907–present)
      • The , itself a colony that gradually increased its independence in 1907, 1947 and 1986, was tasked with the government of multiple other British colonies and territories and the mandate of Samoa. It was also nominal co-trustee of the mandate of Nauru. The remaining non-self-governing New Zealand territory is .
    • Mandates under South African administration (1915–1990)
      • The South-West Africa mandate was governed by the , that itself a colony that gradually increased its independence in 1910, 1931 and 1961.
  • Danish Empire (1536–1953)
  • (1602–1975/)
  • English colonial empire (1585–1707)
  • French colonial Empire (1534–1980/present)
    • Kingdom of France (1534–1792)
    • First French Empire of Napoleon I (1804–1814 or 1815)
    • Second French Empire of Napoleon III (1852–1870)
    • French colonization of the Americas
    • List of colonies and possessions of France
  • German empire (1884–1918)
  • (1885–1960)
    • Italy and the colonization of the Americas (1608-1609)
    • (1911–1943)
    • Italian East Africa (1936–1960)
  • Portuguese Empire (1415–1999)
    • Evolution of the Portuguese Empire
    • Portuguese colonization of the Americas
    • (1505–1961)
    • (1702–1975)
    • Portuguese Malacca (1511–1641)
    • (1577–1999)
    • Portuguese Africa
      • Portuguese East Africa (1498–1975)
      • Portuguese West Africa (1575–1975)
      • Portuguese Guinea (1474–1974)
      • Portuguese Cape Verde (1462–1975)
      • Portuguese São Tomé and Príncipe (1470–1975)
  • (1721–1917)
  • (1492–1975)
    • Spanish colonization of the Americas
      • Viceroyalty of Peru
      • Viceroyalty of New Granada
      • Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata
    • Spanish East Indies (1565–1898)part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain before 1821.
    • (1778–1968).part of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata before 1810.
    • (1884–1975)
    • Spanish protectorate in Morocco (1912–1956)
    • (1476-1524/1859-1969).
  • Swedish Empire (1638–1663 and 1784–1878)
    • Swedish colonization of the Americas
    • Swedish Gold Coast
:
  • Japanese Empire (1868–1945)
  • Ottoman Empire (1453–1922)
    • Ottoman territories in Europe
    • Ottoman wars in Africa (1516-1911)
    • Ottoman colonization of the Levant (1516–1918)
    • (1517–1918)
Other colonial empires:
  • American Empire (1817–present)
    • United States territorial acquisitions
    • American Colonization Society
  • Colonies of the Habsburg Monarchy and (1719–1750, 1778–1783, 1901–1917)
    • Austrian colonial policy
    • Austrian colonisation of Nicobar Islands
    • Austrian East India Company
    • Tianjin
  • Duchy of Courland and Semigallia (a vassal of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, 1637-1690)
    • Couronian colonization
    • Couronian colonization of the Americas
  • German colonial initiatives (1683–1721)
    • Colonies of
      Brandenburg-Prussia (1683–1721)Part of the Holy Roman Empire before 1804.
    • of County of Hanaupart of the Holy Roman Empire before 1736
    • German colonization of the Americas
  • Knights Hospitaller ( Malta, a vassal of the Kingdom of Sicily; 1651–1665)
    • Hospitaller colonization of the Americas
  • Kingdom of Scotland (1621–1707)
    • Scottish colonization of the Americas
    • (872-1397)
    • List of possessions of Norway (1920–present)
    • Norway Antarctic and sub-Antarctic possessions (1927–1957)The dependencies of Norway are uninhabited, thus as end date is taken the latest date of full Norwegian sovereignty extension to such territory, instead of the date of or integration in the administrative structures of the mainland.
claimed in 1927, under Norway sovereignty since 1930.
Peter I Island claimed in 1929, under Norway sovereignty since 1933.
Queen Maud Land claimed in 1938, under Norway sovereignty since 1957.
Peter I Island and Queen Maud Land fall under the scope of the Antarctic Treaty System since 1961.

Controversial empires:

  • Kingdom of Morocco (1975–present)
    • Southern Provinces
  • Muscat and Oman (1652–1892)
    • (1624-1742)
    • Sultanate of Muscat (1652-1820)
    • Sultanate of Zanzibar (taken by Oman in 1698, became capital of the Omani Sultanate or Empire from 1632 or 1640; until 1890)
  • Tsardom of Russia, , , and Russian Federation (1547–1721) (1721-1917) (1917–1991) (1991-present)
    • Russian Colonialism
    • Russian conquest of Siberia
    • Soviet Central Asia
  • , and People' Republic of China
  • Kingdom of Siam
    • Kingdom of Vientiane (1778–1828)
    • Kingdom of Luang Prabang (1778–1893)
    • Kingdom of Champasak (1778–1893)
    • Kingdom of Cambodia (1771–1867)
    • Kedah (1821–1826)
    • New Imperialism#Polynesia
    • Chilean Antarctic Territory


Maps
: File:Belgian colonial empire.png|Belgian Empire File:The British Empire.png| File:Denmark-Norway and possessions.png|Danish Empire File:DutchEmpire15.png| File:English overseas possessions in 1700.png| File:EmpireFrench.png|French Empire File:German colonial.PNG|German Empire File:Italian Empire total.png| File:All areas of the world that were once part of the Portuguese Empire.png|Portuguese Empire File:The Russian Empire-en.svg| File:Map of the Spanish Empire.png| File:Swedish Empire.png|

: File:Japanese Empire (orthographic projection).svg| File:OttomanEmpire1600.png|

Other informal empires: File:American Empire1.PNG|American Empire File:Norway About 1265.png| File:Norwegian Hereditary Empire excluding Greenland.png|, with Greenland not visible File:AustrianColonies.png|Austro-Hungarian colonies and concessions throughout history File:Deutsche Kolonien.PNG| File:Kurzemes un Zemgales hercogiste 1740 locator.svg|Duchy of Courland and Semigallia File:Courland colonization Gambia.png|Couronian settlements in Africa File:Hospitaller colonization.png|Map of the Hospitaller order's territories in the Caribbean File:Trinidad and Tobago-CIA WFB Map.png|Couronian settlements in Americas (New Courland on ) File:Scottish Colonies in North America.png|Scottish colonization of the Americas File:Map of Morocco and Western Sahara-fr.svg|Map of Morocco and Western Sahara with the Southern Provinces in a darker color. File:Serbian territories after First Balkan war.png|Drač County inside Serbian territories.


See also
  • The empire on which the sun never sets
  • History of Western civilization
  • List of largest empires that existed in India
  • Middle Eastern Empires
  • Impact of Western European colonialism and colonisation


Notes and references

External links

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