mandag 27. januar 2020

From Ethiopia to Iran, places that escaped colonisation by Europeans – how did they do it?

The modern colonial era began in the 15th century and, at its height, at the end of World War II, a third of the world’s population lived in territories ruled by foreign powers. The maritime European nations of Britain, Portugal, Spain, France and the Dutch Republic led the way in carving up the continents. The Brits were so rapacious, in fact, that Indian politician Shashi Tharoor humorously observed, “The sun never set on the British Empire because even God couldn’t trust the Englishman in the dark.”

Colonialism has been defined as the discovery, conquest, settlement and economic exploitation of one political body over another. Only a handful of countries managed to avoid suffering under the yoke of European control, although historians aren’t always in agreement over the distinction between colonisation and occupation under the guise of a “mandate”, “protectorate”, “possession” or “territory”. Concessions, meanwhile, were the result of the unequal treaties China signed with Western powers as well as Japan in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Territory in coastal cities was conceded and ports were opened up for trade on terms that were unfavourable to the Chinese.

Here are seven countries that (arguably) escaped the clutches of the European imperialists.