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In politics and history, a colony is a territory under the immediate political control of a state. For colonies in antiquity, city-states would often found their own colonies. Some colonies were historically countries, while others were territories without definite statehood from their inception. The metropolitan state is the state that owns the colony. In Ancient Greece, the city that founded a colony was called the metropolis. Mother country is a reference to the metropolitan state from the point of view of citizens who live in its colony. There is a United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.

A colony is mostly ruled by another state or can be run independently. Unlike a puppet state or satellite state, a colony has no independent international representation, and its top-level administration is under direct control of the metropolitan state.

The term "informal colony" is used by some historians to describe a country which is under the de facto control of another state, although this description is often contentious.



The word Colony comes from the Latin word colōnia. This in turn derives from the word colōnus, which means colonist but also implies a farmer. Cologne is an example of a settlement preserving this etymology. Other, less obvious settlements that began as Roman colonia include cities from Belgrade to York. A telltale sign of a settlement once being a Roman Colony is a city centre with a grid pattern.[4]

Roman colonies first appeared when the Romans conquered neighbouring italic peoples. These were small farming settlements that appeared when the Romans had subdued an enemy in war. A colony could take many forms, as a trade outpost or a military base in enemy territory, but its original definition as a settlement created by people migrating from a home territory became the modern definition.

Colonies in ancient civilizations (examples)

See Colonies in antiquity.

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