Countries that have never been colonised

Updated April 17, 2017

Nations have been in the business of invading, sacking and colonising other nations ever since the concept of nation states began. This has been done to gain resources, such as land, water and mineral wealth. Few countries have escaped being colonised, and the few that have not technically been colonised have still been invaded and briefly conquered by other nation. Colonisation is a slightly ambiguous term that leaves much room for interpretation of historical events.

Colonisation vs. occupation

Colonisation is defined as the act or instance of colonising by the establishment of a colony. The definition by colony, then, is defined as a body of people who live in a new territory but remain tied to the parent state. It is often confused with occupation, which is the act of taking possession of a place or area, such as by foreign military force. A country or territory can be invaded and conquered and not be colonised.


Ethiopia has long been admired, especially by the African people, as having been the only African nation to avoid colonisation. This proud nation was, however, once conquered by Italy and occupied by that nation from 1936 until 1941. Much debate exists over whether this falls under the definition of colonisation or not. While settlements were built and maintained, the Italians were under constant attack by Ethiopian guerrilla troops, who finally succeeded in their mission to uproot the Italians. Despite the debate, the Ethiopian people, and many historical scholars, maintain that the country was never colonised.


High in the Himalayas lies the country of Nepal. This Buddhist sanctuary has not officially ever been colonised, though it was, in the past, a protectorate of Britain. This has also led to some ambiguity about whether Nepal should even be listed as never having been colonised. History books differ on their interpretation of Nepal's colonisation status. Yet, it is still maintained by many that technically, Nepal has never officially colonised by another nation.


The land that is now known as Thailand has been a country since the first millennia B.C., when it was colonised by the Thai people. The country thrived through the centuries, despite being under almost constant threat from Burma, Vietnam and Laos. When the European colonial powers conquered southeast Asian nations in the 19th and 20th centuries, Thailand alone remained uncolonized.

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About the Author

A native of Austin, Texas, Andrea Julian began freelance writing in 2008 while living abroad in Guatemala. She has a background in biology and a passion for traveling. She writes for various websites, including eHow, Helo and The Savvy Explorer. Julian holds a bachelor's degree in biology from Texas State University.