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Claim that PH is ‘first and only’ US colony false

A 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games brochure falsely claims the Philippines became the first and only colony of the United States in 1898. It became America's first and only colony in Asia.

Twitter user Petra Gana posted Dec. 2 a photo of the “About the Philippines” page found in the SEA Games’ spectators guide and venue map. The tweet read in part:

FYI this is in the “About the Philippines” section of the #SEAgames2019 spectators map.

The second paragraph of the page, which talks about the U.S. colonization in the Philippines, says:

In 1898, the Philippines became the first and only colony of the United States.

The U.S. colonized Liberia in 1822 until 1847, according to the Central Intelligence Agency.

The emergence of Liberia as a U.S. colony was made possible by the American Colonization Society (ACS), a private organization that “was formed in 1817 to send free African-Americans to Africa as an alternative to emancipation in the United States.” Other colonization societies were formed after the ACS and took colonies in Liberia as well.

A timeline of the history of Liberia from the Library of Congress says:

Slave states in North America, increasingly interested in getting rid of their free African-American populations, encouraged the formation of colonization societies. These groups organized themselves independently of the ACS and founded their own colonies in Liberia for transplanting free African-Americans.

Several years later, the colonies established by the ACS and other colonization societies merged, which eventually became the Commonwealth of Liberia.

Meanwhile, the Philippines, along with Puerto Rico, Guam and other islands, were ceded to the U.S. through the Treaty of Paris following the Spanish-American War in 1898. That turned the Philippines into America's first and only colony in Asia.

The treaty also compelled Spain to relinquish its claim on Cuba.

Filipinos resisted the attempt by the U.S. to start a new colonial regime in the Philippines, which led to the Philippine-American War that lasted from 1899 to 1902. After the three-year conflict, the U.S. declared its victory and the Philippines became its colony for nearly 50 years.

The Philippines gained its independence from the U.S. on July 4, 1946. Cuba, on the other hand, became an independent republic in 1902. Meanwhile, Puerto Rico and Guam are still under American rule today.

Aside from Puerto Rico and Guam, the U.S. has three permanently inhabited territories: American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Former U.S. territories also include the Panama Canal Zone, Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau.

A colony is defined as “a body of people living in a new territory but retaining ties with the parent state,” while a territory is “a geographic area belonging to or under the jurisdiction of a governmental authority.”

Contacted by FactRakers, Gana said the brochures were handed out Dec. 1 during the Philippines-Malaysia ice hockey opener at the SM Mall of Asia Ice Skating rink.

The SEA Games brochure also contains event venues, maps, and game schedules. (MC, JGL, HP)


Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). (2019). Liberia. The World Factbook. Retrieved from

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). (2019). Philippines. The World Factbook. Retrieved from

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). (2019). Puerto Rico. The World Factbook. Retrieved from

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). (2019). Guam. The World Factbook. Retrieved from

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). (2019). Cuba. The World Factbook. Retrieved from

Kohn, M., & Kavita, R. (n.d.). Colonialism. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from

Library of Congress (LOC). (n.d.). 1820 to 1847 From Colony to Republic. History Of Liberia: A Time Line. Retrieved from

Library of Congress (LOC). (n.d.). The African-American Mosaic. Retrieved from

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Colony. Retrieved from

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Territory. Retrieved from


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