For the rule of Oliver Cromwell, see The Protectorate.

In international law, a protectorate is a state or territory controlled by a more powerful state. The controlled state generally retains some degree of autonomy over internal affairs and is not a possession of the controlling state. The protectorate is almost always allowed to keep an indigenous ruler as nominal head of state. The controlling state typically directs foreign relations and defense. The relationship is established by treaty. In this sense a protectorate is a type of dependent area.

Similar concepts to protectorate include suzerainty and a tributary.


19th Century

The British devised the term after 1815, in ordering and validating their de facto occupation of Corfu and the seven Ionian islands during the last years of the Napoleonic hegemony. The islands were constituted by the Treaty of Paris in 1815 as the independent 'United States of the Ionian Islands' under British protection.

Other British protectorates followed. In 1894 Prime Minister William Gladstone's government officially announced that Uganda was to become a British Protectorate, where Muslim and Christian strife had attracted international attention. The British administration installed carefully selected local kings under a program of indirect rule through the local oligarchy, creating a network of British-controlled civil service. Most British protectorates were overseen by a Commissioner or a High Commissioner, rather than a governor.

The League of Nations

The League of Nations established League of Nations Mandates, similar to protectorates, for "responsible" European powers in various areas of the non-European world.

US use of term

Some agencies of the United States government, such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency, use the term protectorate to refer to insular areas of the United States such as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as were the Philippines. However, the agency responsible for the administration of those areas, the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) within the United States Department of Interior exclusively uses the term insular area rather than protectorate.

Although the term "protectorate" is not used consistently by governmental agencies, some consider the insular areas to be protectorates of the United States.

See also

de:Protektorat eo:Protektorato fr:Protectorat id:Protektorat nl:Protectoraat no:Protektorat pl:Protektorat pt:Protectorado fi:Protektoraatti sv:Protektorat


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