A protectorate is a state that is controlled and protected by another sovereign state. It is a dependent territory that has been granted local autonomy over most internal affairs while still recognizing the suzerainty of a more powerful sovereign state without being its direct possession. In exchange, the protectorate usually accepts specified obligations depending on the terms of their arrangement. Usually protectorates are established de jure by a treaty. Under certain conditions as of Egypt under British rule (1882–1914) e.g., a state can also be labelled as a de facto protectorate or a "veiled protectorate".
A protectorate is different from a colony as they have local rulers, are not directly possessed and rarely experience colonization by the suzerain state. A state that is under the protection of another state while retaining its "international personality" is called a protected state, not a protectorate.