Were Ethiopia And Liberia Colonized Or Not? See Facts…

When talking about colonization in Africa, it’s common to hear that Ethiopia and Liberia were never colonized by Europe. It might seem quite difficult to understand how an entire continent was colonized save for these two, however the facts surrounding this belief are not far-fetched.

Let’s go back in time to fully understand this better.


Liberia was indeed a colony but unlike other countries which were invaded by Europeans and taken advantage of, it was never breached.

The American Society for Colonization of Free People of Color of the United States (known simply as the American Colonization Society, ACS) created the Cape Mesurado Colony on the Grain Coast on 15 December 1821. This was further expanded into the Colony of Liberia on 15 August 1824. This colony was created for expatriated people of color (also known as non-whites). 

refugees awaiting transportation to liberia
“Refugees awaiting transportation to Liberia at Mt. Olivet Baptist Chapel, New York City” From, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated News, April 24, 1880, p.


The ACS were a group of white men who sort to displace free black people from the United States. They believed free black people had no place in America, so these black men were returned to Africa, the colony of Liberia (meaning land of the free).

SEE ALSO: South Africa Apartheid: Everything You Should Know

Liberia received partial independence in 1839 through a commonwealth declaration, however it wasn’t until 26 July 1847 did Liberia attain liberty. During the wave of Imperialism (or ‘scramble for Africa’ as some call it) in the 1880s which saw various European states attempt to colonize Africa, Liberia was ignored because it was still seen as a United States colony.


Ethiopia (formerly known as Abyssinia) on the other hand, could have been colonized by Britain and Italy if only they had succeeded. Britons had tried to take over Ethiopia by dethroning King Theodore. However this plan failed and the Britons deemed Ethiopia unworthy of colonization.

Battle between Abyssinians (Ethiopians) and Italians
Battle between Abyssinians (Ethiopians) and Italians

Some years later, Italy tried to capture the region but failed woefully due to undermining the smartness of the Ethiopians who had successfully learned how to protect their land.

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Italy under dictator Benito Mussolini, tried a second attempt at capturing Ethiopia, which they succeeded in doing. Their success was short-lived as the Allied States who won World War II (WW2) took Ethiopia from the hands of Mussolini and restored Haile Selassie as the emperor of Ethiopia.

Were Ethiopia and Liberia Really Colonized Or Not?

So there you have it. Ethiopia and Liberia were never colonized depending on which angle you look at it from. In a sense they were, because at some periods in their history they were ruled by foreign powers. On the other hand they were not, if you are comparing their history with that of other African countries who were sorely colonized by Europe.