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.


  1. 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.


  2. 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.


    • 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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