Settler States of the World

Settler States of the World by Jordan Engel
Settler States of the World by Jordan Engel

Settler states are sovereign states which were colonized by migrant settlers whose descendants remain politically dominant over the indigenous peoples.

Settler rule is a particularly resilient form of authoritarian domination. It rarely ends. Viewing the country as their permanent abode, settlers typically expropriate the richest land, lay claim to prime natural resources, and introduce social segregation.

This map only represents sovereign states which are or have been politically ruled by settlers. While there are many other territories which are governed by settlers, like Northern Ireland, Tibet, French Guiana, and India’s Andaman Islands, they are not sovereign, and thus do not appear on this map.

The states in yellow, labeled “Decolonizing settler states,” have all, to some degree, taken back political control from its settlers. For example, Americo-Liberian settlers ruled Liberia for 130 years until 1980, when a military coup put indigenous leaders into power. And in 2006, Bolivia elected its first indigenous president, Evo Morales. In 1994, South Africa ended 46 years of Apartheid and white minority rule, and in 1979, Ian Smith, the white Prime Minister of Rhodesia, was replaced by Abel Muzorewa, who renamed the country Zimbabwe.

In most of the world’s settler states, the settlers are predominately of European ancestry. The two exceptions are Taiwan, where 96% of the population is Han Chinese, and Israel, where about half of the Jewish population is of Middle Eastern, Asian, or African origin.

13 comments

  1. This reflects a combination of Western self-hatred and neo-Marxist self-righteousness. Why isn’t northern Africa shown as settler states? The Arabs didn’t move in until after Amr al-‘As conquered Egypt. Why not Thailand? The Thai slowly ate up Mon and Khmer polities between the 12th and 15th centuries. I can understand Taiwan, since Han people seized it in the 17th century. Yet do you really think that a few hundred thousand Austronesians–who enjoy full citizenship there in any case, could displace 20 million+ Han? And, yes, add Turkey. As for Israel, why not see it as an indigenous people reclaiming a lost patrimony?

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  2. Turkey is a settler state. Turkic people invaded the land of Anatolia and killed the native population as well as the Greek inhabitants and replaced their culture and languages. The Turkic lands in Central Asia such as Kazakhstan can also be considered settler states because the original homeland of the Turks is is northern Asia.

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  3. There are some islands in the Caribbean that I don’t think should qualify as current settler states, like the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, and the Cayman Islands. The Cayman Islands never had an indigenous population, and the Lucayan people of the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos were completely wiped out through genocide, so there isn’t an indigenous population left for that power structure to exist.

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  4. I’d like to think Greenland (or rather Kalaallit Nunaat) is a red country (nearly all Danish/Norwegian going back to the 18th century) soon to be orange-yellow. Iceland would be as well if they actually had an indigenous population.

    There are others as well…

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  5. Singapore are also settler colonial state as its predominant demographic is descendants of Chinese immigrants brought to labor during British colonial era. Indigenous population only accounts to 13% of population.

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  6. The Canaanites are *not* extinct. The historical, archaeological, genetic and linguistic evidence all tell us the same thing: the Jews (notwithstanding their nearly two-millennia-long diaspora where most but not all were driven from their homeland) *are* the Canaanites. Hebrew began, like Phoenician, as a dialect of Canaanite. They are the aboriginal population, merely returning to their homeland.

    A significant proportion of the Arabised population (Arabic speakers were always indigenous only to the land to the east of the Jordan, spanning from southern Syria to northwestern Saudi Arabia) can also trace their ancestry to colonised, assimilated and converted (to Christianity or Islam) indigenous Jews and Samaritans (the same people, but with a slightly different understsanding of Judaism). Another significant proportion of Arabs are Bedouin migrants from the original Arab homelands neighbouring Israel, and the rest are descendants of migrants resettled under the Ottomans from Egypt, Syria and further afield (as far as the northern side of the Caucasus) who were either Arabs to start with or assimilated to the Arabic-speaking population. Many more were attracted from neighbouting lands by the economic boom brought about by the returning indigenous Jews.

    The difference between the decolonising Jews and the irredentist colonialists in the Gaza Strip and West Bank is that the Jews respect the ethnic diversity of the lands they control as the State of Israel, with full civil and political rights for Arab Israelis (comparing very favourable to what Turkey or most Arab countries allow to their minorities) whereas the Hamas- and Fatah-controlled enclaves refuse to grant the same civil, political, residence and cultural-linguistic rights to the always indigenous Jews.

    Israel should be coloured yellow, with some small irredentist red patches in Gaza and eastern Judea and Samaria.

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  7. Eh, all countries are settler states. Everyone who lives there settled there from somewhere else or is descended from someone who settled there from somewhere else. The Lakota Sioux whine that the US government took the Black Hills from them in 1877. The Lakota however took the Black Hills from the Cheyenne in 1776, who took the Black Hills from the Arikara before this, and the Arikara took the Black Hills from previous tribes in the 1500s. You can play this game forever.

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  8. First of all, humans have colonized space originally inhabited by animals. And even further down the line, oxygen-breathing organisms have occupied space previously dominated by anoxic life forms.

    But even if we limit ourselves to human-human interactions, India has been colonized by the Arians, who have reduced the indigenous population to the lowest of the lowest in the caste system. So you see, its all about where you draw the line and who (or what) you call indigenous.

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  9. Jews are indigenous to Israel; it’s weird to see you describe it as a “settler state”. Arabs, on the other hand, invaded Israel and the rest of the Levant about twelve hundred years ago: they’re very proud of it, and Hamas specifically cites this conquest as the basis of their right to rule. Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria should be described as settler states: there are still indigenous people in those countries who will firmly tell you that they are *not* Arabs; that Arabs invaded their country.

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    • I’m going to try to explain. In Israel, the indigenes would be Canaanites. However, they are “extinct,” so, like in a will, it would go to their descendants. To my understanding, Palestinians are the descendants. Jewish people are of many ethnicities, and are welcome to live in and be equal in this land, especially since it is a land which is sacred to them, but they have no right to steal it and say it is theirs. I know many, many people who are Jewish or have Jewish heritage, and almost all of them agree that, while the land is sacred, it is everyone’s, just like everywhere else, and the aboriginal people of said areas should not be made a minority.

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