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Mapping the World’s Overseas Territories and Dependencies



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overseas territories and dependencies around the world and their sovereign states.

Overseas Territories and Dependencies of the World

An overseas territory or dependency is a region with ties abroad to a sovereign nation—not a completely independent state, but also not a constituent part or administrative subdivision of the parent country.

Their histories vary, but most are tied to either “modern” colonialism from the 1400s onwards, or wars from the 19th and 20th centuries. Many of these regions still depend on their parent country to some capacity for economic, military, and diplomatic affairs.

This graphic by Pranav Gavali maps the overseas territories of various countries, using a variety of sources including WorldAtlas, Statista, and official country releases.

Where are the World’s Overseas Territories and Dependencies?

There are a total of 71 overseas territories listed on the map spread across the world.

It excludes territories claims in Antarctica, which are currently governed by the 1959 Antarctic Treaty. As an overseas map, it also excludes territories sharing a border, or that are part of a larger state or province (like Germany’s Heligoland, part of the state of Schleswig-Holstein).

Each region has its own unique present-day status. Some are “autonomous territories” or “constituent countries,” while some are administered almost entirely as part of the parent country.

SovereignOverseas Territory / DependencyRegion
🇦🇺 AustraliaAshmore and Cartier IslandsIndian Ocean
🇦🇺 AustraliaChristmas IslandIndian Ocean
🇦🇺 AustraliaCocos (Keeling) IslandsIndian Ocean
🇦🇺 AustraliaCoral Sea IslandsPacific Ocean
🇦🇺 AustraliaHeard & McDonald IslandsIndian Ocean
🇦🇺 AustraliaNorfolk IslandPacific Ocean
🇩🇰 DenmarkFaroe IslandsAtlantic Ocean
🇩🇰 DenmarkGreenlandAtlantic Ocean /
Arctic Ocean
🇫🇷 FranceBassas da IndiaIndian Ocean
🇫🇷 FranceClipperton IslandPacific Ocean
🇫🇷 FranceEuropa IslandIndian Ocean
🇫🇷 FranceFrench GuianaSouth America
🇫🇷 FranceFrench PolynesiaPacific Ocean
🇫🇷 FranceGlorioso IslandsIndian Ocean
🇫🇷 FranceGuadeloupeCaribbean
🇫🇷 FranceJuan de Nova IslandIndian Ocean
🇫🇷 FranceMartiniqueCaribbean
🇫🇷 FranceMayotteIndian Ocean
🇫🇷 FranceNew CaledoniaPacific Ocean
🇫🇷 FranceRéunionIndian Ocean
🇫🇷 FranceSaint Barthélemy Caribbean
🇫🇷 FranceSaint Pierre and MiquelonAtlantic Ocean
🇫🇷 FranceSaint-MartinCaribbean
🇫🇷 FranceTromelin IslandIndian Ocean
🇫🇷 FranceWallis and FutunaPacific Ocean
🇳🇱 NetherlandsArubaCaribbean
🇳🇱 NetherlandsBonaire Caribbean
🇳🇱 NetherlandsCuraçao Caribbean
🇳🇱 NetherlandsSaba Caribbean
🇳🇱 NetherlandsSint Eustatius Caribbean
🇳🇱 NetherlandsSint Maarten Caribbean
🇳🇿 New ZealandCook IslandsPacific Ocean
🇳🇿 New ZealandNiuePacific Ocean
🇳🇿 New ZealandTokelauPacific Ocean
🇳🇴 Norway Bouvet IslandAtlantic Ocean
🇳🇴 NorwayJan MayenArctic Ocean
🇳🇴 NorwayPeter I IslandSouthern Ocean
🇳🇴 NorwaySvalbardArctic Ocean
🇵🇹 PortugalAzoresAtlantic Ocean
🇵🇹 PortugalMadeiraAtlantic Ocean
🇬🇧 United KingdomAkrotiri (British Forces)Cyprus /
🇬🇧 United KingdomAnguillaCaribbean
🇬🇧 United KingdomBermudaAtlantic Ocean
🇬🇧 United KingdomBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryIndian Ocean
🇬🇧 United KingdomBritish Virgin IslandsCaribbean
🇬🇧 United KingdomCayman IslandsCaribbean
🇬🇧 United KingdomDhekelia (British Forces)Cyprus /
🇬🇧 United KingdomFalkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)Atlantic Ocean
🇬🇧 United KingdomGibraltarEurope
🇬🇧 United KingdomGuernsey (Channel Island)Atlantic Ocean
🇬🇧 United KingdomIsle of ManAtlantic Ocean
🇬🇧 United KingdomJersey (Channel Island)Atlantic Ocean
🇬🇧 United KingdomMontserratCaribbean
🇬🇧 United KingdomPitcairn, Henderson, Ducie & Oeno IslandsPacific Ocean
🇬🇧 United KingdomSaint Helena, Ascension & Tristan da cunhaAtlantic Ocean
🇬🇧 United KingdomSouth Georgia & South Sandwich IslandsAtlantic Ocean
🇬🇧 United KingdomTurks & Caicos IslandsCaribbean
🇺🇸 United StatesAmerican SamoaPacific Ocean
🇺🇸 United StatesBaker IslandPacific Ocean
🇺🇸 United StatesGuamPacific Ocean
🇺🇸 United StatesHowland IslandPacific Ocean
🇺🇸 United StatesJarvis IslandPacific Ocean
🇺🇸 United StatesJohnston AtollPacific Ocean
🇺🇸 United StatesKingman ReefPacific Ocean
🇺🇸 United StatesMidway Islands / AtollPacific Ocean
🇺🇸 United StatesNavassa IslandCaribbean
🇺🇸 United StatesNorthern Mariana IslandsPacific Ocean
🇺🇸 United StatesPalmyra AtollPacific Ocean
🇺🇸 United StatesPuerto RicoCaribbean
🇺🇸 United StatesU.S. Virgin IslandsCaribbean
🇺🇸 United StatesWake IslandPacific Ocean

More than half of the overseas territories were in either the Pacific Ocean (21) or the Caribbean (18). The United States by itself accounts for 11 of the territories spread out across the North and South Pacific.

Another highlight is that the majority of these regions are islands located quite a distance from their parent countries. One of the furthest is New Caledonia, a French territory around 17,000 km away from European France.

They also vary mightily in terms of size, population, and political apparatus. For example, the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico has 3 million people, and its own constitution and elected government, while another U.S. territory of Johnston Atoll is tiny and entirely uninhabited.

Here’s a brief look at some of the best known territories on the list:


First colonized by Spain in the 16th century, the U.S. occupied the North Pacific islands in the aftermath of the Spanish–American war (along with Puerto Rico and the Philippines). The island was briefly occupied by Japan during World War II—attacked at the same time as Pearl Harbor—before being recaptured by the United States. It currently has an elected legislature and governor and is home to a large U.S. military base.


When Bermuda was first discovered in the 1500s by the Spanish in the Caribbean, and then a century later by the English, there was no Indigenous population documented. At first it was used by passing ships as a replenishment spot, but the English eventually settled it in the 17th century. It now has a constitution, a parliament, and a governor who exercises power on behalf of the British head of state.

Cook Islands

Unlike others on this list, the Cook Islands in the South Pacific is not only self-governing but also runs its own foreign and defense policy and is in “free association” with New Zealand. While Cook Islanders are New Zealand citizens, with the same monarch as head of state, they are also separate Cook Island nationals.


This island in the Indian Ocean 700 km off the coast of Madagascar was first settled by the French in the 17th century, though it was discovered earlier by the Portuguese. It is one of the many French Overseas Territories that together are home to 2.6 million people.

Countries With the Most Overseas Territories and Dependencies

Depending on if you count island territories independently or group them together, the final accounting of overseas territories and dependencies by country can vary.

But by most official designations of territories, the UK and France are tied with 17 overseas territories.

CountryOverseas Territories & Dependences
🇫🇷 France17
🇬🇧 United Kingdom17
🇺🇸 United States14
🇦🇺 Australia 6
🇳🇱 Netherlands6
🇳🇴 Norway4
🇳🇿 New Zealand3
🇩🇰 Denmark2
🇵🇹 Portugal2

Unsurprisingly, two great empires of the pastBritian and France—still have largest remnants of their past breadth. The British still maintain many ties to several territories in the Caribbean (formerly the British West Indies) while French influence stretches from the Pacific to South America.

And consider that this list reflects current status as of 2023. Former colonies that would have been counted in the past include British India (which became India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh) and French Indochina (which became Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam).

As for the U.S. at #3, though the majority of its territories are in the Pacific, they were acquired well before World War II. In addition to islands ceded by Spain, the rest were unclaimed islands incorporated as part of the Guano Islands Act of 1856, which sought sources of guano—feces of bats and seabirds used as agricultural fertilizer and for gunpowder production.

Editor’s note: The original graphic and article included a source which had incorrect sizes and listed Spain as having two territories. The graphic, article, and relevant tables and overall numbers have been updated.

Interested in an overview of who leads countries around the world? Check out Visualized: The Head of State of Each Country, by Age and Generation for the easiest breakdown.
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This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

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Vintage Viz: China’s Export Economy in the Early 20th Century

This pie chart, circa 1914, is a fascinating breakdown of China’s export economy just prior to World War I.



Vintage Viz: China’s Export Economy in the Early 20th Century

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there” is the oft-quoted first line of L.P. Hartley’s 1953 novel, The Go-Between.

A statement that is as profound as it is banal. In other words, when we do history, we’re a bit like tourists. If we really want to understand the past, we have to think like a local.

The infographic above, Aspects of Principal Exports of Chinese Goods to Foreign Countries, is the first in a series that we’re calling Vintage Viz, which presents a historical visualization along with the background and analytical tools to make sense of it.

Today, the People’s Republic of China is the second largest economy in the world, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, and a growing military power. But at the dawn of the 20th century, things were much, much different.

Opium and the Opening of China to the West

Early Sino-Western trade was restricted by the Qing emperors to three ports, and after 1757, just one, in what became known as the Canton System. This name came from the one remaining port city of the same name, present-day Guangzhou.

Foreign trade was tightly monitored and subject to stiff tariffs, and Western traders chafed under these restrictions. So when in 1839, Chinese authorities moved to shut down opium smuggling—an important source of profit for foreign merchants—Western powers saw their chance and used the pretext to revise the terms of trade by force.

In what became known as the Opium Wars, 1839-1842 and 1856-1860, first Great Britain and then an Anglo-French alliance defeated imperial China and imposed punitive treaties that included indemnities and lowered tariffs, but also expanded the number of ports open to foreign traders, first to five and by 1911, to more than 50.

Map of China in 1904

Westerners were exempted from local laws, Christian missionaries were allowed to proselytize freely, and the opium trade was legalized. Hong Kong was also ceded to Great Britain at this time.

The Treaty Port Era, also known as the Century of Humiliation, was perhaps too much for the country to bear. The weakened central government was beset by popular unrest, including the Taiping Rebellion (1850–64), which killed 20 million people, and the Boxer Rebellion (1899-1901), so-named for the secret society that led the movement, the Righteous and Harmonious Fists.

Eventually, the last Chinese emperor was deposed and a republic declared in 1911. Nevertheless, the government was too weak to impose its will, and was repeatedly challenged by warlords.

So as we approach the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, and the period covered by our visualization, we find China weakened internally by civil strife, and externally by Western powers.

The History of this Century-Old Pie Chart

Aspects of Principal Exports of Chinese Goods to Foreign Countries captures Chinese exports for 1914, and comes from The New Atlas and Commercial Gazetteer of China: A Work Devoted to Its Geography & Resources and Economic & Commercial Development.

Originally published in 1917 and edited by Edwin J. Dingle for the Far Eastern Geographical Establishment, the volume contains a wealth of data for the period. According to the book’s Preface, it “seeks to give all the information that is essential to the business-man in regard to a country… about which less is known than in regard to any similar area in the world.”

The visualization breaks down total Chinese exports for 1914 in haikwan taels (hk. tls.), a unit of silver currency used to collect tariffs. In 1907, one haikwan tael was worth $0.79 U.S. dollars.

Official figures come from the Chinese Maritime Customs Service. This was set up by foreign consuls after the First Opium War to collect tariffs to guarantee the payment of treaty indemnities.

Exports in 1914 represented 345 million hk. tls., a 14.4% decrease from 1913, likely owing to the outbreak of the First World War that same year.

Apart from “Other Metals and Minerals, Sundries, etc,” which served as a catch-all category, the largest categories were silks and teas of various types, representing 22.6% and 10.4% of total exports respectively.

Export ItemValue (hk. tls.)
Animals, Living5,270,910
Cotton Goods2,012,128
Cotton, Raw12,339,549
Eggs, Fresh, Preserved and Frozen4,192,535
Fire crackers and fire works2,435,841
Mats and Matting3,326,819
Oil, Bean and Nutgalls6,027,967
Oil, Groundnuts2,414,900
Oil, Wood3,736,275
Opium, Chinese250,255
Other Metals and Minerals, Sundries, etc74,449,181
Seed, Rape2,662,349
Seed, Sesamum6,355,317
Sheep’s Wool6,658,962
Silk Cocoons2,078,721
Silk Piece Goods10,841,472
Silk Pongees4,720,914
Silk Waste5,025,679
Silk, Raw, not Steam Filature2,811,367
Silk, Raw, White, Steam Filature37,384,485
Silk, Raw, Wild not Filatures4,072,777
Silk, Raw, Yellow Steam Filatures1,267,413
Silk, Raw, Yellow, (not Steam Filature)4,439,073
Silk, Re-Reeled5,552,127
Skins and Hides Undressed (Cow and Buffalo)13,499,340
Skins, Goat Untanned3,207,974
Straw Braid1,104,310
Tallow, Animals and Vegetables3,175,270
Tea Brick, Black6,711,019
Tea Brick, Green2,323,259
Tea, Black16,203,547
Tea, Green10,785,584
Tin, in Slabs7,978,558
Vermicelli Macaroni1,957,827
Yellow Beans19,005,709

Below are some more details that emerge from this visualization.

All the Tea in China

The Chinese tea trade was the subject of another visualization in the Atlas. It shows that China had been steadily losing ground to British India. Between 1888-1892 Chinese exports to Great Britain were 242 million pounds against India’s 105 million pounds. By 1912-1913, India had surpassed China to export 279 million pounds against 198 million pounds.

In 1914, the majority of Chinese exports went to Russia, 902,716 piculs in all. A picul is equal to “as much as a man can carry on a shoulder-pole” or about 133 pounds.

The Silk Road to Profits

Silk has long been in demand in the West as a luxury good, giving its name to the overland trade route that connected East and West for centuries: the Silk Road.

In 1914, China was the largest producer and exporter of silks in the world. On an annual basis, China averaged 14 million pounds, compared to the number two spot, Japan, at 11 million pounds, and number three, Italy, at 9 million pounds. Together, these three controlled 81.7% of the global silk trade.

Chart showing China's silk supply in 1914

The Opium of the Masses?

The opium trade, the pretext that opened China to foreign trade, was still big money in 1914.

A total of 37 million hk. tls. were imported in 1914 from India, up 11.9% from 1908. This is actually down from a peak of 41 million hk. tls. in 1913.

Chart showing China's opium trade in the early 20th century

In 1907, China signed the Ten Year Agreement with India, which ultimately phased out the opium trade. By 1917 the trade was all but extinguished.

Back to the Future

The Aspects of Principal Exports of Chinese Goods to Foreign Countries is a far cry from the contemporary trade picture. China’s top export in 2021 was in the category “telephones for cellular networks or other wireless networks,” and was worth $147.1 billion.

But it’s worth noting that China today is a direct result of this period. The resentment created during the Century of Humiliation would eventually help lead to Mao Zedong, the Long March, and the establishment of the People’s Republic of China.

And in 1979, the Chinese central government would set up the first of their own “treaty ports,” in the form of special economic zones, places where foreign companies could set up shop. But this time, it wasn’t foreign powers who were making the rules.

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