Difference Between Protectorate and Colony

In most cases, the new form of government is established after the previous form of government cannot meet the needs of residents. When this sort of government is founded, the prior government’s beneficial characteristics are kept while the negative attributes are altered. Protectorates and colonies are formed in the same way. Definitions, philosophy, characteristics, structure, and other criteria distinguish these two forms of government.

Protectorate vs Colony

The main difference between Protectorate and Colony is that the colony is an area that is owned by a country but is not a part of it. A protectorate is a sovereign entity administered by a government that is totally reliant on another country for security against outside invasion.

Protectorate and Colony

A protectorate is a state that has been granted protection by another government in exchange for something else. In order for such an arrangement to succeed, the state may have something to offer a larger country. In a protectorate, all external contacts are focused on the country that is defending the area. Knowing that they can rely on their guardians as defenders will bring a greater sense of security to small countries.

A colony is a territory that is administered by a different country. A colony has no sovereignty; it is under the direct control of another country. If a colony has any external connections, they are established and managed by the country in which it is located. A colony is an area owned by a country but ruled by another country.

Comparison Table Between Protectorate and Colony

Parameters of ComparisonProtectorateColony
DefinitionA protectorate is a sovereign entity that is only guarded by a larger country. A colony is an area within a bigger nation that is administered by the same country. A colony is an area within a bigger nation that is administered by the same country.
Majority RuleDoes not apply.Present.
Succession RuleAppliesDoes not apply.
ParliamentAbsentNot Applicable

What is Protectorate?

A protectorate is a nation that is administered and protected by a sovereign country other than its own. It is a dependent territory that enjoys local autonomy in most internal affairs, and at the same time, recognizes but does not directly hold the suzerainty of a larger sovereign state. In exchange, the protectorate takes on specific responsibilities that are outlined in the agreement. In most cases, the treaty establishes a legal protectorate.

A protected state is one that preserves its “international personality” and has some autonomy in conducting foreign affairs. For political and practical reasons, protection ties are rarely publicized, instead of being referred to as “an independent state with special treaty relations” with the protective state. The protected state appears on the world map like any other sovereign state.

The international management of a country can also be regarded as a kind of international protection, with an international organization rather than a country acting as the protector. A protectorate often has only direct foreign connections with the protector, and the protector manages all the protectorate’s more significant international issues. Correspondingly, the protectorate rarely engages in military action on its own, preferring to rely on the protector for protection.

What is Colony?

A colony is an area that is subject to foreign control in political science. Despite being ruled by foreign colonists, colonies are kept distinct from the governance of the settlers’ home nation, the metropolitan state (or “mother country”). Because of this colonial administrative division, the colony is neither a consolidated territory nor a vassal state.

Some colonies have been established up as dependent territories that aren’t self-governing enough or as self-governing colonies under the supervision of colonial settlers. The name comes from an architectural comparison in which a pillar is placed above the (sometimes stylized) head. This is a biological analogy to the body as a subordinate to the dominant head.

As a result, colonies are not self-governing; instead, they are governed by a distinct organization that fulfills the capital role. When the Romans conquered the neighboring Italians, they established colonies. When the Romans defeated their opponents in battle, these small agricultural communities sprung up. A colony is a group of people who constitute a certain kind of settlement in a country, but they are directly governed by another country.

Main Differences Between Protectorate and Colony

  1. A protectorate is a sovereign entity that is only guarded by a larger country, whereas a colony is an area within a bigger nation that is administered by the same country.
  2. In Protectorate, the majority rule does not apply. The majority rule does not apply in the Colony.
  3. The Protectorate’s succession rule is Not Applicable, and the Colony’s is Not Applicable.
  4. Parliament is not present in the Protectorate, and it is not applicable in the Colony.
  5. In the Protectorate, there is no constitution, and in the Colony, there is no constitution.


A colony is a group of people who constitute a certain kind of settlement in one country, but they are directly under the jurisdiction of another country. In this case, protectorates have been under British jurisdiction in the past, even though they are conventional sovereign states. In reality, colonies were a part of the British state.

A big distinction between a protectorate and a colony is that a protectorate is governed by a ‘protector,’ whereas a colony is governed by a ‘colonizer.’ It’s worth noting that a protectorate is distinguished by its autonomy. It operates in its own manner. It does not rely on the operation of any other country. It is self-contained and self-sufficient. On the other side, it is only reliant on another country for invasion protection. In other terms, a protectorate is a state that is ruled by a greater state but has autonomy over its internal affairs.


  1. https://academic.oup.com/trstmh/article-abstract/52/2/135/1899850
  2. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/american-journal-of-international-law/article/legal-status-of-aden-colony-and-the-aden-protectorate/DABEC79742BD5B0AD67A81907C649054
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