Top 10 Modern Colonies

5. Saint Helena

A British colony that couldn’t be much further from its governor, Saint Helena is a volcanic island in the South Atlantic Ocean. In spite of its distance from Britain, the inhabitants of Saint Helena are fiercely loyal to the Queen, and Royals have often visited the island. It was used as a place of exile for Napoleon, and tourism on the island is largely based around that. However, tourism isn’t particularly easy, as the airport currently has no airport but one is due to open in 2016.

4. Diego Garcia

This small atoll in the Indian Ocean is another example of the cruel nature of imperialism – this time being used as a bargaining chip between the US and the UK. There was originally no indigenous population, but early settlement by the French brought slaves to the island, who stayed on, mixed with other races and became their own race – the Chagossians. The Chagossians lived on the island throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, and in the 1930s it was estimated that 60% of the population were native-born.

However, things were about to change. The US were looking for an unpopulated island on which to establish a military base and Diego Garcia was by then a British colony. So, the British agreed to depopulate the island to make way for the military base, sending all the Chagossians to Mauritius, where at least 40 of them died. The Chagossians have repeatedly tried to return to their home, but attempts have been blocked by both of the bigger countries. In 2010, a leaked memo came to light, which implied that officials wished to “put paid to resettlement claims of the archipelago’s former residents.” So it seems that the Chagossians may remain in exile for a long time yet.


3. Réunion Island

The deportation theme continues with this Indian Ocean island, which was claimed by the French in 1642. This time it was the deportation of children, with 1,630 of the island’s children moved to France between 1964 and 1982. Known as “les enfants de la Creuse” due to the city they were moved to, these children have since started filing lawsuits against the French authorities for “abduction and sequestration of underage, raid and deportation”, notably Jean-Jacques Martial.

Essentially, the idea was to curb overpopulation, by removing the “future unemployed”. At first these were only abandoned children, but the plans expanded to include children deemed to be badly treated, and illiterate parents were tricked into signing their children over. Once in France, the children were often badly treated, abused, racially insulted and generally unhappy, with none of the promised return visits to Réunion. Despite the mistreatment of the native people, France retains the island and has no plans to either grant it independence or repatriate the “stolen” children.


2. Guam

What kind of US citizen cannot vote? The ones that live in US territory Guam. They are governed by the US but as it’s not a state they have no part in the voting process and their congressional member is not allowed to vote either. Guam has been part of the US since 1898, when America won it from Spain in the Treaty of Paris, along with Puerto Rico. The only time it has been governed by anyone else was during the Second World War, when it was briefly occupied by Japan, a time of repression, torture and murder on the island. It was liberated by the Americans again in 1944.

Despite the changes in government, there is still a large indigenous population and in 2010, the Chamorros made up 37% of the population. There are no plans to make Guam autonomous at the moment.


1. Gibraltar

A colony which is both proudly British and fiercely debated. The money, police officers, telephone boxes and food are also British but the climate is Spanish, and Spain constantly asserts its right to the territory, with its distinctive rock and monkeys. It was ceded to the British in 1713 and the residents of Gibraltar have never shown any desire to change the system of government. In 2000, members of the Gibraltar’s parliament signed a declaration that said “Gibraltar belongs to the people of Gibraltar and is neither Spain’s to claim or Britain’s to give away”. So, however much Spain may want it, it looks unlikely to be handed over soon…

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