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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

The Colonial Italian Empire

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The colonies of Italy are a combination of European and overseas territories of Italy in relation to Italy, which in the 19th and 20th centuries were colonially dependent on this metropolis and sometimes called the Italian colonial empire.


By the end of 1860, almost the entire territory of Italy was united around the Sardinian kingdom. In 1871, with the accession of the Papal State to the Italian Kingdom, the unification of the country was completed and Italy began a colonial expansion.

For two decades after the unification, the Italian government was considering with interest the possibility of colonization of several territories in Southeast Asia, which still remained free from other colonial powers, in particular: Thailand , Burma (joined by Great Britain in 1885), the Sultanate of Aceh which was considered the expediency of claiming the Andamand and Nicobar Islands, which the Austrian Empire had previously attempted to claim and rather sluggishly colonized the Danes. In 1880, Baron Gustav von Overbeck, consul of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in Hong Kong, who tried to acquire Northern Borneo for his country, tried to transfer the Italian concession, but the project failed, having been refused in Rome, by that time the baron had to leave the company, over which full control gained the British.

In addition, at the end of 1869, researcher Emilio Cherruti was sent to New Guinea to establish relations with the local population in order to create a possible trading post and colony. Cherutti was able to establish contacts with the sultans of the islands of Aru and Kai of the Molukksky archipelago, and according to preliminary agreements they were taken under Italian sovereignty, but the fear of meeting opposition from Great Britain and the Netherlands did not allow to bring this initiative to a successful conclusion.

However, in 1883, the Italian government asked London through diplomatic channels whether the British government could accept that part of New Guinea could become an Italian colony and receive a categorical refusal. The British Empire refused to recognize any attempt at Italian colonization in the Asia-Pacific region.

In 1885, Italy annexed Eritrea, as well as south Somalia in 1889. After the Italian-Turkish war of 1911-12, Libya and the Dodecanese islands were annexed as well. In the First World War, Italy fought on the side of the Triple Alliance and, according to the peace treaties it received South Tyrol and almost all of Istria.

In 1922 , the fascist government led by Benito Mussolini came to power. The country’s foreign policy had became  more aggressive. Fascist Italy attacked Corfu (1923), seized Ethiopia (1935-1936) and Albania (1939). In 1936, the Empire was proclaimed. An alliance was made with Nazi Germany, on the side of which, from 1940, Italy entered World War II. In June of the same year, Italy occupied the south-east of France, with the largest city of Menton in this area. In 1942, the Italians occupied the French Toulon Provence and occupied the whole of Corsica. In 1943 the Mussolini regime fell, and the German troops occupied the north of the country, as well as Albania and Dalmatia. The rebels of the Resistance movement together with the Allied troops liberated Italy by 1945.

In 1946, Italy was proclaimed a republic — however, under the Paris Peace Treaty of 1947, it was deprived of all colonies (Libya — in 1951, Somalia — in 1960), as well as most of the Istrian peninsula and the rest of the previously occupied territories. The Italian colonial empire ceased to exist.

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