Why Some Countries Did Had Colonies?
Some countries had colonies and dependencies because these were usually small territories, often with few inhabitants, which did not, had the capacity to carry out all those aspect of administration and government necessary to an independent state.
Nowadays, the possession of colonies is an embarrassment rather than an advantage to the country having them, and few are retained against the wishes of their people. Before the great decolonizing years which followed the Second World War, having colonies seemed a natural part of being a great power.
France had many overseas territories such as Algeria, French Morocco and those of French West Africa, but all of these are now self-governing republics. Italy had Eritrea, now federated with Ethiopia, and Italian Somaliland, now the Somali Democratic Republic. Holland’s Old Dutch East Indies is mostly the present day Republic of Indonesia.
As in the case of the British Empire the breaking up of these empires left many small territories who were not big enough for independence or who preferred to wait. These saw advantages in remaining under the protective umbrella of a greater power.
Such protection means that defense, external affairs, internal security, and the safeguarding of the terms and conditions of public offices are the responsibility of the colonizing power through its appointed governor. In some cases the governor is also responsible for the financial and economic stability of the territory. But internal affairs are normally in the hands of the locals.
The historical phenomenon of colonisation is one that stretches around the globe and across time. Modern state global colonialism, or imperialism, began in the 15th century with the “Age of Discovery”, led by Portuguese and Spanish exploration of the Americas, the coasts of Africa, the Middle East, India and East Asia.
The Spanish and Portuguese empires were the first global empires because they were the first to stretch across different continents, covering vast territories around the globe. The phrase “the empire on which the sun never sets” was first used for the Spanish Empire in the 16th century. During the late 16th and 17th centuries, England, France and the Dutch Republic also established their own overseas empires, in direct competition with each other. The end of the 18th and early 19th century saw the first era of decolonization, when most of the European colonies in the Americas gained their independence from their respective metropoles.
Spain was irreversibly weakened after the loss of their New World colonies, but the Kingdom of Great Britain (uniting Scotland with England and Wales), France, Portugal, and the Dutch turned their attention to the Old World, particularly South Africa, India and South East Asia, where coastal enclaves had already been established. The second industrial revolution, in the 19th century, led to what has been termed the era of New Imperialism, when the pace of colonization rapidly accelerated, the height of which was the Scramble for Africa, in which Belgium, Germany and Italy were participants.
During the 20th century, the colonies of the losers of World War I were distributed amongst the victors as mandates, but it was not until the end of World War II that the second phase of decolonization began in earnest. In 1999, Portugal gave up the last of Europe’s colonies in Asia, Macau, to China, ending an era that had lasted six hundred years.