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Italian Colonial Empire
Flag of Italy (1861-1946) crowned alternate
The National Flag,
(Flag)
Italy and Posessions September 1939
Historical era
  - Established
  - Disestablished


1861

July 1, 1960

The Italian colonial empire, created after the Kingdom of Italy, joined other European powers in establishing colonies overseas during the "scramble for Africa". Modern Italy as a unified state only existed from 1861. By this time France, Spain, Portugal, Britain, and the Netherlands, had already carved out large empires over several hundred years. One of the last remaining areas open to colonisation was on the African continent. By the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Italy had annexed Eritrea and Somalia, and had wrested control of portions of the Ottoman Empire, including Libya, though it was defeated in its attempt to conquer Ethiopia. The Fascist government under Italian dictator Benito Mussolini which came to power in 1922 sought to increase the size of the empire further, which it did via force or threat of force. Ethiopia was successfully taken, four decades after the previous failure, and Italy's European borders were expanded at the expense of its neighbours. Italy sided with Nazi Germany during World War II and initially enjoyed successes. However, Allied forces eventually captured Italian overseas colonies and by the time Italy itself was invaded in 1943, its empire had all but ceased to exist.