Why aren’t “territories” of countries that are far removed from the mainland referred to as colonies anymore? What distinguishes a territory from a colony?

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Why aren’t “territories” of countries that are far removed from the mainland referred to as colonies anymore? What distinguishes a territory from a colony?

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Technically nothing. It’s all about semantics, “colony” sounds imperialistic while “territories” could be seen less imperialistic.

Another great example of this is military. Have you ever heard of Department of Defense or Ministry of Defense? They were used to be called Ministry of War back in the day, but society doesn’t like that so we call them defense ministries now even though the job is exactly the same.

A territory is an area of land under the control of a ruler or state. A colony on the other hand is a country or area under control of another country, and it’s occupied by settlers from the controlling country.

If it’s not being settled by people the controlling than it’s not a colony.

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Colonies require colonists

Most modern “territories” were not colonized by the current owners if they were colonized at all. They’re not associated with the bigger country because people from that country came over, set up shop, and both support and rely on their main country

Some modern territories used to be colonies but they gained independence as the empires fell apart but their new government decided to make a treaty to stick with their bigger country because they still needed someone to help enforce their sovereignty. This is the case with many of the small islands in the Caribbean

Other territories were acquired through conquest. No American colonists settled on Puerto Rico, Guam, or the Mariana Islands. These, along with the Philippines and Cuba were acquired from Spain during the Spanish American War. They were never colonies of the US, they were colonies of Spain which means they must be territories of the US unless the US goes and recolonizes them(generally a bloody affair).