Some historians use the term informal colony to refer to a country under the de facto control of another state, although this term is often contentious.
The word "colony" comes from the Latin word col?nia, used as concept for Roman military bases and eventually cities. This in turn derives from the word col?nus, which was a Roman tenant farmer.
The terminology is taken from architectural analogy, where a column pillar is beneath the (often stylized) head capital, which is also a biological analog of the body as subservient beneath the controlling head (with 'capital' coming from the Latin word caput, meaning 'head'). So colonies are not independently self-controlled, but rather are controlled from a separate entity that serves the capital function.
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. Though a colony could take many forms, as a trade outpost or a military base in enemy territory, such have not been inherently colonies. Its original definition as a settlement created by people migrating from a central region to an outlying one became the modern definition.
Settlements that began as Roman colonia include cities from Cologne (which retains this history in its name), Belgrade to York. A tell-tale sign of a settlement within the Roman sphere of influence once being a Roman colony is a city centre with a grid pattern.
French Indochina was formed in October 1887 from Annam, Tonkin, Cochinchina (which together form modern Vietnam) and the Kingdom of Cambodia; Laos was added after the Franco-Siamese War in 1893. The federation lasted until 1954. In the four protectorates, the French formally left the local rulers in power, who were the Emperors of Vietnam, Kings of Cambodia, and Kings of Luang Prabang, but in fact gathered all powers in their hands, the local rulers acting only as figureheads.
Malta was a British protectorate and later a colony from the French Revolutionary Wars in 1800 to independence in 1964.
Mozambique: a colony of Portugal since the 15th century. Independent since 1975.
Philippines, previously a colony of Spain from c. 1565 to 1898 as part of the Spanish East Indies, was a colony of the United States from 1898 to 1946. Achieved self-governing Commonwealth status in 1935; independent in 1946.
Puerto Rico has been a colony of Spain from 1493 to 1898 and of the United States from 1898 to the present.[disputed (for: has had some democratic self-rule since 1952) – discuss]
South Africa consisted of territories and colonies by various different African and European powers, including the Dutch, the British, and the Nguni. The territory consisting the modern nation was ruled directly by the British from 1806 to 1910; became self-governing dominion of Union of South Africa in 1910.
The United States was formed from a union of thirteen British colonies. The Colony of Virginia was the first of the thirteen colonies. All thirteen declared independence in July 1776 and expelled the British governors.
^In 1521, an expedition led by Ferdinand Magellan landed in the islands, and Ruy López de Villalobos named the islands Las Islas Filipinas in honor of Spain's Prince Philip (later to become Philip I of Castile). During a later expedition in 1564, Miguel López de Legazpi conquered the Philippines for Spain. However, it can be argued that Spain's legitimate sovereignty over the islands commenced following a popular referendum in 1599.