Define protectorate.

Protectorate is a country that is mainly governed and defended by a more powerful country that serves as the protector.


Protectorate is a state or a territory that is partly administered by a stronger state but is autonomous in internal politics. Hence, it does not imply the possession of the more powerful state over the weaker one. Furthermore, protectorates are established by the treaty.

Within historical settings, the protectorate definition has two different meanings. In its earliest stage of development, it was accepted by modern international law and represented the autonomous territory that is protected diplomatically or militarily from third parties by a stronger state or entity.

In return for such politic protection, the protectorate generally admits specified commitments, which can differ significantly, depending on the real nature of the relationship between the states. Nevertheless, the protectorate keeps its formal sovereignty and remains a state in accordance with international law. The territory that adheres to this type of arrangement is also called a protected state.

The second implication occurred as a result of European colonial expansion in the nineteenth century. The colonized territories were described as the “colonial protectorates,” however, they were not perceived as separate states under international law.

The entities that are referred to as the “international protectorates” might become so subject to the protecting authority that virtually they lose their independent status of the state; although, there are exceptions. With that said, the protectorate represents the dependent political entity or the territory in such a subordinate relationship with the partial control.

The protectorates in US history were the following: Liberia, Cuba, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama Canal Zone, Dominican Republic, Sultanate of Sulu, Germany, South Korea, Ryukyu Islands, Commonwealth of the Philippines, and Hawaii. These also include Compact of Free Association with the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau.

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