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Relationship in which one country exercises some decisive control over another country or region. The degree of control may vary from one in which the protecting state guarantees the safety of the other to one that is a disguised form of annexation. Though the relationship is an ancient one, the use of the term dates only from the 19th century. In modern times most protectorates have been established by treaties requiring the weaker state to surrender management of its international relations, thus losing part of its sovereignty.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on protectorate, visit Britannica.com.