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Colonization is one of the gameplay features available within the game as the setting is within the age of colonization. Nations can explore and colonize the continents of the Americas, Asia, Africa and Australia, as well as Siberia and islands in the Pacific.


The main benefit of colonialism, for most European countries, is to improve the income generation and military logistics of the colonizing country. This is because colonized territories overseas, in general, can provide only Trade Income to the colonizing nation, as well as provide staging points for naval and land warfare around the world.

This is accomplished primarily by creating Colonial Nations, which are AI-controlled subject nations that will produce their own military and navy, but will provide trade power and other benefits to the colonizer, and creating Trade Companies, which are semi-autonomous provinces that provide substantial trade bonuses in Trade Nodes that the colonizer can control. The type of subject nation created depends on its location in the world.

In contrast, any colonizing nation that colonizes empty provinces on their home continent, such as North and South American natives or many nations in Asia, will receive the full benefits of that province's development, making colonialism important for these nations as well.

Even if a province is not in a Colonial Region, Trade Company Region or on the same continent (or the player does not have the DLC required), a nation will still receive 25% of the normal benefit of the province, which can make even this sort of colonization beneficial in large amounts.

AI Colonizers[edit]

Not all AI nations will gain colonists, and only a limited number of nations will join the colonial race. An AI nation may gain a colonist via their National ideas or by unlocking Exploration ideas or Expansion ideas.

National ideas:



The list above indicates AI nations that are weighted towards choosing Expansion or Exploration ideas. However, AI nations will now pick idea groups dynamically, so a AI nation not on this list may decide to start colonizing.

As well, the list above does not mean all the aforementioned countries will actually colonize. Some of them might cease to exist early on or never form, while others may get colonists too late to do any meaningful colonization. Also, the AI will not pick Exploration ideas unless it has at least one port.


Although some uncolonized provinces may be visible at the beginning of the game, much of both land and water is covered by Terra incognita. Discovering these areas is essential to finding provinces to colonize.

How a nation goes about exploring depends on whether El Dorado.png El Dorado is enabled or not. That said, the following factors are true regardless of DLC:

  • A Conquistador Conquistador is required to explore on land (unless the country is at war; see below), and an Explorer Explorer is required to explore at sea. These are special military leaders that are given pips as though the country had 80% as much tradition as it really does, in exchange for being able to explore.
  • The "Quest for the New World" idea, the second idea in the exploration idea group, is required to hire Explorers and Conquistadors. A handful of countries (notably Portugal Portugal) have an explorer in 1444 despite not having the idea; these leaders cannot explore in ocean provinces until Quest for the New World is unlocked.
  • While at war, armies can enter all enemy provinces, even those hidden by Terra Incognita, assuming movement isn't blocked by forts or blockades. This can be done by clicking to move the army into a suspected province within the Terra Incognita; the army will move regardless if they are able to. The province will be revealed once the army enters it. but movement into the province takes as just as long as if it was being explored with a Conquistador.
  • Conquistadors hired with high Army tradition have a chance to discover adjacent provinces.
  • Undiscovered land provinces have a chance per month to be discovered by owners of adjacent provinces (typically taking 3–5 years). Muscovy Muscovy and colonial nations have national ideas that make this discovery instant.
  • Discovery of entire regions will occur based entirely on scripted triggers, which are specific to the region and country in question. In general, a region will be revealed to a country if:
    • The country in question explored any province in the region being revealed at least 25 years ago
    • Any country, that owns provinces in the region being revealed, discovered the capital province of the original country at least 30 years ago.
    • Any neighboring country, in the same culture or religious group as the original country, explored a province in the region being revealed at least 75 years ago.

As well, regions will be revealed automatically at specific year timestamps, depending on the region being revealed and the region the discovering country's capital is in.

Exploration Without El Dorado[edit]

  • An army (of any size) led by a Conquistador Conquistador can be moved into land provinces covered by Terra Incognita and thus discover them. If that land is owned by another country, the Conquistador will merely discover the province when movement finishes instead of actually moving into it, unless that country grants military access. Conquistadors can able to move through primitive nations (those in New World technology groups) even without access.
  • A fleet (of any size) led by an Explorer Explorer can be moved into sea zones covered by Terra Incognita and thus discover them. Upon entering a sea zone, they also have a chance to discover coastal provinces adjacent in that zone (increased by the Explorer's Maneuver skill). Having a ship patrol back and forth will eventually reveal all coastal provinces (typically in 6–12 months). Ships take attrition as normal while exploring; fleet basing agreements can therefore extend a nation's effective exploration range.

Exploration With El Dorado.png El Dorado[edit]

  • An army (of any size) led by a Conquistador Conquistador, can be sent on a mission to hunt for the Seven Cities of Gold via the army interface. To do this, the army must be within a Colonial Region and the exploring nation must not have a capital in a Colonial Region. The army will then automatically move through Terra Incognita in the region, uncovering it as it moves, with a chance to trigger various random events.
  • For unexplored provinces that are not in Colonial Regions, or for nations whose capital is located in a Colonial Region, land exploration follows the same process as it does without El Dorado, as listed above.
  • Any fleet led by an Explorer Explorer and containing at least Lightship.png 3 light ships or Bigship.png 3 heavy ships can be sent on an exploration mission via the fleet interface, and will do so automatically once assigned.
  • The fleet can be sent to explore 'the waters' of a region, meaning the Explorer will discover open sea and coastal sea zones, but will not discover land provinces, or they can be sent to explore 'the coast' of a region, meaning the Explorer will explore and reveal coastal land provinces in that region. Typically 'the waters' of a region must be explored first before 'the coast' becomes available as a mission. While exploring open sea, the Explorer will discover all sea zones in that region before returning. While exploring a coastal sea zone, they will discover all coastal provinces bordering that sea region before returning. Right-clicking on unexplored ocean will automatically start the exploration mission for the appropriate region, as long as it is within range.
  • Fleets on exploration missions do not suffer attrition, but only missions to regions within their country's Colonial range.png colonial range can be explored this way. Fleets on exploration missions cannot be recalled or reassigned during the mission, only disbanded, which may kill the Explorer. Explorers may trigger certain random events while on missions. If the explorer dies, the fleet will automatically return home but will take attrition while doing so.
  • An Explorer can also be sent to circumnavigate the globe. The fleet will take sea attrition as normal while on this mission, and may sink, killing the Explorer as well. The first nation worldwide to have an Explorer successfully circumnavigate the globe receives Prestige.png +100 Prestige. Any other nation that completes this mission afterwards receives Prestige.png +10 Prestige. This exploration mission can only be completed once per nation, though it can be repeated if failed.

Colonists.png Colonists[edit]

A Colonist envoy is required to start a colony.

Colonists.png Traditions Ideas Bonuses Policies

  • Expansion idea 1: Additional Colonists
  • Exploration idea 1: Colonial Ventures
  • Exploration idea 6: Free Colonies
  • American idea 3: Empire of Liberty
  • Canadian idea 3: Settling the Interior
  • Carib idea 5: Carib Seafarers
  • Leonese idea 3: Conquest of the New World
  • Malayan sultanate idea 7: Settle the Islands
  • Moluccan idea 3: Dominance over the Outer Islands
  • Muscovite idea 5: Siberian Frontier
  • Nizhny Novgorod idea 5: To The East!
  • Norwegian idea 3: Pioneer Spirit
  • Spanish idea 3: Inter Caetera

Passing a Mayan, Inti, and Nahuatl religious reform allows a nation to select a Colonist as one of the five options. Selecting the Clan Migration Native idea, for nations with a Native Council government, also provides a Colonist. Parliaments also may pass a bill granting an extra colonist for 10 years.

Native policies[edit]

An example of native policies in game

Native policies allow a nation to decide on their foreign policy regarding indigenous natives in colonizable province around the world. A native policy must be chosen when a nation unlocked their first colonist (from any source). The original selection is free. Changing native policies costs -1 Icon stability.png stability, but has no cooldown.

Native coexistence policy grants a -100% bonus to the chance to get a native uprising, effectively reducing aggressiveness in all colonizable provinces to 0. This policy is beneficial for when a nation's armies are busy elsewhere and can't be wasted sitting on a colony, when manpower is too precarious for constant skirmishes, when a nation is too poor to maintain a garrison, or for native and Sub-Saharan nations who may actually lose battles with natives in the early game.

Native trading policy grants a -50% bonus to native uprising chance (effectively reducing aggression by half) and a +50% to native assimilation.

Native assimilation means that the goods produced in a colonized province will increase by a factor equal to (native population/20000), rounded down, once that colony becomes a full province. As such, a colony with 1400 natives in the province will gain 0.07 goods produced when the colony completes. The native trading policy increases this by 50%, so the goods produced in the same province with 1400 natives will be increased by 0.105. This choice could be useful if playing France France, which also has a bonus to native assimilation in their national ideas, or for any nation that can handle a few revolts and will be coring and taking full control of the province when completed, such as most nations in Asia when colonizing provinces in Indonesia, or any nation controlling a significant percentage of the generated trade value.

Native repression policy grants a bonus+20 to global settler increase. While this policy makes for more rapid early colonisation, the bonus is not overwhelming at higher technology levels. The provinces will require garrisons as native uprising chance is not reduced.

Colonial range.png Colonial range[edit]

The range from which a nation can establish a colony from a core is called the Colonial Range. It is measured from that nation's nearest core province and it expands depending on the diplomatic technology level of the nation as well as events, missions, policies, ideas, and other bonuses. Fleet basing rights from third countries do not extend this range. This range also controls how far Explorers can go on exploration missions. If a nation has no ports, they can only colonize adjacent land provinces, regardless of Colonial Range.

To check the range to a given province, change the map mode to "Colonial Range", and hover over the province of interest. The range will show, green for in range and red for out of range.

Colonial range.png Traditions Ideas Bonuses Policies

  • Exploration idea 3: Overseas Exploration

  • Norwegian idea 2: The Call of our Forefathers

  • Portuguese idea 1: Legacy of the Navigator

  • Exploration-Plutocratic: The Colonial Companies Act
  • Naval-Exploration: Skilled Cartographers

  • Couronian idea 5: Couronian Colonization

AI nations also receive a +25% colonial range bonus, as they are not smart enough to colonize staging areas for future expansion.

Colonist time.png Travel Time[edit]

The speed at which a nation's colonists travel to claim and establish colonial territory is completely unrelated to the travel time of Merchants and Diplomats. It is based primarily on distance from the capital but, unless the target province is directly land connected to the capital, colonists travel by sea. The actual route taken is the shortest sea distance from either the capital's port (or, if it is inland, a port that is directly connected to it) to either the target province's future port location, or the port that is closest to the target province.

Example: Portugal Portugal's capital is Lisboa. In order to colonize Pipil (839), a province next to the Mayan nation of Kiche Kiche on the west coast of Central America, a Colonist would first travel all the way south to Cape Horn in South America, then back north to reach Central America again. However, if Portugal Portugal colonized Chortli (2637) first, which is the province north of Pipil but on the east coast of Central America, then a Colonist subsequently travelling to Pipil would have its travel time dramatically reduced.

Colonist travel time can be difficult to predict due to their coded preferences for travel. For port provinces not directly connected to one's capital, colonists will always travel by sea to where the port will be located, even if it would be faster to travel overland from another port (or the province borders both coasts like in Central America). For inland provinces not directly connected to the capital, colonists always travel to the closest non-blockaded port to the target province even if it would be quicker to travel cross country from a port on a different coast. These unusual rules can sometimes account for extended colonist travel time.

Nations in Colonial Regions, especially North America, can experience unusually long travel times for Colonists. Normally, this is because if a nation's capital is coastal, Colonists will always prefer to travel by sea, even if travelling by land would be faster. It may be prudent to move the capital inland if this becomes an issue.

Colonists travel across open sea much faster than through land or coastal sea provinces. For example, European colonists can reach the Caribbean faster than Sub-Saharan West Africa, even though it is physically much farther away.

Colonist travel time is a fixed value based on the rules explained above; no events or ideas modify it. Colonists return instantly the day after either the colony becomes a city or they are recalled. As of patch 1.14, colonist travel times will sometimes be bugged; if the travel time to a province seems much longer than it should be (in particular, if it is exactly 601 days), try saving and reloading the game.

As soon as any nation chooses to send a Colonist to a province, no other nation can send a Colonist to that province unless the colony is later destroyed before completion, even if the Colonist will actually arrive two years later. Two nations cannot 'race' and see which Colonist will arrive first to the province.


Once a Colonist arrives in an unowned province the population starts at 10. Colony populations grow at a base rate depending on the nation's Global settler increase.png Global Settler Increase modifier, which is largely dependent on Diplomatic Technology level but also by some ideas and other modifiers.

In addition, as long as a Colonist remains in a colony, they have a chance each month of bringing in 25 additional population, speeding growth greatly. Once a colony reaches a population of 300, it will be randomly assigned a Trade Good based on a weighted list of goods available in that geographical region. This list can be seen via hovering over the large "Question Mark" in the uncolonized province screen. A colony becomes a full city when its population reaches 1000, and is destroyed if its population reaches 0; this can happen due to attacks by natives, events and colonies being destroyed by other countries in a war. Resending a Colonist is required to restart these colonies.

Colonists can be sent and recalled to other colonies in progress as many times as is warranted. Colonist can even be sent to colonies of enemy nations that have been seized using Military Points. A captured colony retains the culture and religion of its original owner, but is instantly converted to those of its new owner once a colonist arrives.

Global settler increase.png Global Settler Increase[edit]

Colonies grow by a flat amount of settlers each month. This number is the nation's Global settler increase.png Global Settler Increase, which is the number of additional colonists added to a colony per year. For example, if the country's global settler increase plus the province's local settler increase is 15 per year, the colony will get one settler most months but two settlers every fourth month, for a total of 15 for the year. Diplomatic technology provides additional Global settler increase.png Global Settler Increase:

Diplomatic technology Global settler increase
1 10
3 25
10 35
15 50
23 75
26 100
32 150

Global settler increase is further improved by the following bonuses:

Global settler increase.png Traditions Ideas Bonuses Policies
+25 yearly
  • Native idea 7: Great Winter Hunts
  • Spanish ambitions
+20 yearly
  • Exploration idea 4: Land of Opportunity
  • Colonial idea 6: New Frontiers
  • Navarran idea 3: Intrepid Pioneers
  • Siberian idea 7: Hunting Expansion
  • Expansion-Exploration: Colonial Expansion
+15 yearly
  • Mexican traditions
  • Cham idea 4: Cham Migrations
  • Portuguese idea 6: Land Before Faith
+10 yearly
  • Expansion idea 3: Faster Colonists
  • Administrative-Exploration: The Colonial Administration Act
  • Exploration-Plutocratic: The Colonial Companies Act
  • Humanist-Exploration: Native Assimilation Act
  • Quantity-Expansion: Colonial Garrisons

and the following static modifiers:

Modifier Settlers per year
Colonial maintenance -125 to 0
No adjacent province controlled -5
Arctic -10
Arid -10
Tropical -10
Treaty of Tordesillas
(Catholic country settling a colonial region assigned to them by the pope)
Violation of Treaty of Tordesillas
(Catholic country settling a colonial region assigned to someone else by the pope)
Grant New World Charter burgher estate interaction +10
'Heretics Deported' Protestant church aspect +15
Tengri nation with Orthodox syncretic faith +10
Repression Native Policy +20

Settler chance.png New settlers chance[edit]

If a colonist is in the colony there is some probability that 25 settlers reach the colony. Each 1% of probability is equal of 3.0 settlers per year (0.01 chance/month x 12 month/year x 25 settlers). The New Settlers chance is determined by the following:

Modifier Chance Mean settlers/year
Base + Base Value 10% 30
Per 100 population ("colony level")[1] 1% 3
Per percentage point production efficiency[2] 0.2% 0.6
Per point native aggressiveness[3] -0.5% -1.5
Trading in Cotton 5% 15
Same religion 1% 3
Same culture 1% 3
Same culture group 1% 3

There are a few policies that can increase the chance of new settlers.

Settler chance.png Traditions Ideas Bonuses Policies

  • Administrative-Exploration: The Colonial Administration Act
  • Expansion-Plutocratic: Taxation with Representation
  • Exploration-Innovative: Benign Neglect

Important Modifiers to Colony Growth[edit]


The location and terrain of a potential colony will affect the rate of growth of the colony. Colonies in Arid, Tropical or Arctic locations will receive a Global settler increase.png -10 Settler Growth Rate penalty, and a colony with no adjacent colonies of that nation will receive a further Global settler increase.png -5 penalty.

If controlling an area ahead of other colonizers is a concern, a nation can prefer to colonize locations with favorable terrain, but other major factors such as amount of hostile natives and the presence of a Center of Trade need to be considered as well.


Main article: Exploration idea group events
Main article: Expansion idea group events

The Exploration and Expansion idea groups unlock several events that can trigger to modify colony growth rate or size directly, and can be either beneficial or detrimential. The events Colonist Rush and Colonial Enthusiasm give the following powerful, but temporary, modifiers to colony growth:

  • Gain “Colonial Enthusiasm” modifier for 10 years:
    • +5% Settler chance.png Colonist chance
    • +25 Global settler increase.png Global settler increase

Some nations that were historical colonizers, notably Spain Spain and Portugal Portugal, have unique missions or events that will improve Settler Growth.


A nation with a Colonist can receive missions to colonize particular provinces. The mission will select provinces within Colonial Range, preferring the ones with the highest Development. This mission also grants the powerful Colonial Enthusiam modifer, but the colony must be developed to 400 population before the mission will be completed.

There are also missions that request the discovery of some region of the New World and that also grant the Colonial Enthusiam modifier, but remember that the modifier is not stackable with itself.

Treaty of Tordesillas[edit]

With El Dorado DLC, the first Catholic nation to form a Colonial Nation (that is, to core 5 provinces in a Colonial Region) while the Papal State's opinion of them is at +50 or more, will be assigned that region. That nation and their associated colonial nation will receive a Global settler increase.png +10 increase to settler growth within the region. A single nation can have any number of colonial regions assigned to them by the Pope.

If another Catholic nation colonises a province in that region, they will receive severe penalty for "Violated the Treaty of Tordesillas". These include a Global settler increase.png -20 Local Settler Increase penalty when colonizing that colonial region, as well as a Papal influence.png -10 Yearly Papal Influence penalty and a Icon diplomacy relations.png -50 to Papal opinion of that nation.

These modifiers can only affect Catholic nations; nations of other religions can receive neither the bonuses nor the penalties.

Native Policies[edit]

With the Cossacks, a nation must select a Native Policy that represents how that nation will interact with native peoples around the world. This only refers to indigenous native populations in uncolonized provinces, not to any 'offical' Native American, African or Indonesian nations.

If a nation selects Repression, they will receive a Global settler increase.png +20 Global Settler Increase Bonus, at the cost of more uprisings of the natives. The other two policies do not affect Global Settler Increase.

Natives Encountering our Colonies[edit]

Main article: Natives events

Without the Cossacks, when a Christian state establishes a colony in the New World with at least 300 natives, it triggers the Natives Encountering our Colonies event. All three options enable events that can lead to temporary boosts to Global settler increase.png Global Settler Increase and Settler chance.png Colonist Chance, and will unlock other events related to the decision chosen. Non-Christian nations cannot receive any of these events.


Colonial maintenance is the money that a nation spends in maintaining its colonies, and can be adjusted through a slider in the Economy tab. At 100% maintenance, the cost of the i-th active colony per year is given by

\text{cost per year} = \left( 24 + \frac{\text{base tax + base production + base manpower}}{4} \right) \cdot \left(1 + \max \left( i - \text{number of colonists}, 0 \right)^2 \right)

As shown above, a country can support a number of colonies equal to its number of colonists at the base maintenance cost. After this the marginal maintenance cost starts rising swiftly (the tooltip claims exponential growth but the formula is actually quadratic, not exponential):

Colony over cap: Cost multiplier for that colony:
1st 2x
2nd 5x
3rd 10x
4th 17x

Note that unlike force limit, this is applied to each colony individually in the order that they were founded, so the more recent colonies will be saddled with the higher cost multipliers.


Colonizable provinces are usually occupied by natives, who may attack a colony there, depending on several factors. Natives are also very likely to attack land units passing through their province, regardless of whether the province is colonized. However, these attacks depend on Aggressiveness, so taking the "Coexistence" Native Policy disables these random attacks and taking the 'Trading' Native Policy reduces the chance of an attack occuring by half. This can be very important for North or South American natives who may have to cross uncolonized territory to attack a war target, especially since North or South American Native nations begin at Military Technology 1 and so can actually lose battles, or at least significant amounts of manpower, in battles with the local native population in a province.


Native population in 1444.

The size of the native population determines how many native regiments attack at a time. The native population in a province can be reduced permanently using the Attack Natives military action. However, when the colony becomes a full city, it will gain a bonus to Goods Produced depending on the remaining population of natives. This bonus is equal to Native Population /2)/ 10000), rounded down, so a colony with 1400 natives in the province should gain 0.07 goods produced when the colony completes. This is called the Native Assimilation bonus. Because of this, it is usually beneficial to leave the native population alone if the colony can be protected by an army.

The Native Policy Trading increases the Assimilation bonus by +50%, effectively increasing the Goods Produced in the Colony, once complete, by half of what it normally would have been due to native population. So a colony with 1400 natives in the province would gain 0.105 goods produced when the colony completes.

Using the Military Action Attack Natives will permanently reduce the native population in a province. The action may need to be performed multiple times in order to completely drive out the local population, as native regiments that break from combat due to low morale are not killed and so return to the 'population' of the colony.

Native aggressiveness Aggressiveness[edit]

Native aggressiveness in 1444.

Aggressiveness ranges from 0 to 10 and determines how likely the natives are to attack a colony. Each point of Aggressiveness represents an extra 1% chance of a native uprising happening per month. If a native Uprising happens, native regiments equal to the native population in the province will appear and attack any military units in the province, or being a siege of the province if not. If the siege is finished (which will take 1 month), the Settler Population in the colony is reduced by an unknown but flat amount, as it can destroy the colony completely.

Taking the Trading Native Policy adds -50% to the chance of uprising, effectively halving Aggressiveness. Taking the 'Co-Existence' Native Policy will add -100% to the chance of uprising, effectively removing Native Aggressiveness in all provinces.

Ferocity icon.png Ferocity[edit]

Ferocity ranges from 0 to 10. Natives regiments in the province get a +5% damage bonus per point of Ferocity.


Natives use low-tech units:

Area Name Off. Morale of armies.png Def. Morale of armies.png Off. Icon fire.png Def. Icon fire.png Off. Icon shock.png Def. Icon shock.png Total pips
Americas Native American Archer 1 pip 1 0 pips 0 0 pips 0 0 pips 0 1 pip 1 0 pips 0 2
Africa African Spearman 1 pip 1 1 pip 1 0 pips 0 0 pips 0 1 pip 1 0 pips 0 3
Asia East Asian Spearman 1 pip 1 0 pips 0 0 pips 0 0 pips 0 1 pip 1 0 pips 0 2
Arctic Archer Cavalry 1 pip 1 0 pips 0 0 pips 0 0 pips 0 1 pip 1 1 pip 1 3


During a war, a colony can be occupied like any province. The development of a colony through normal growth will continue unabated, but a Colonist present in the province will no longer be able to attract new 'bonus' settlers. An army standing in an occupied colony will have the option to Seize Colony for 25 Military power.png Military Points. The colony ownership will transfer to the nation that used the action. The colony will keep the culture and religion of the previous owner until a colonist from the new owner reaches the colony.

An alternative option is the Military Action Burn Colony for 5 Military power.png Military Points. The colony is completely destroyed and the province becomes, once again, an uncolonized province.

Since a colony keeps growing under occupation, it is possible that it will become a full colonial province while being occupied. Unless the 'Seize Colony' option was used earlier, the 'finished' province will belong to the original owner.

Note that if a Colonist is present in the colony at that moment it is occupied, it is not recalled automatically and will be unavailable until the occupation is lifted, as they are 'trapped' in the province.

Colonial provinces[edit]

Once colonization is finished, a colony becomes a full-fledged province. The benefits of the new province are determined by its location.

If the province is on the same continent as the owning nation's capital, or the province has a direct land connection to the capital, it must be cored, but at a reduced cost of 50% for being a colony. After this, the colony is, for all intents and purposes, a regular province. The owner will be able to build buildings, recruit troops, build ships, and improve the province's development level, and the Autonomy floor will be 0%. The province can also be assigned to an Estate or given a Parliament seat, and both of these groups will count the province as part of the nation's total territory for determining how much territory they require to remain happy. The nation will be now able to trace Coring and Colonial Range from this province as well.

If a province is not on the same continent as the capital of a nation, it will be considered as a Distant Overseas province. The province will not need to be cored, and will act as a regular province except that the Autonomy floor will be 75% and Estates and Parliaments will not consider them when considering how much land they possess or represent compared to the nation's total.

If the province is in a Colonial Region, the colonizing nation will retain control of the province, as with a Distant Overseas province, until a total of 5 provinces are colonized by that nation in the same Colonial Region. All provinces will then be ceded to a newly-formed Colonial Nation.

All provinces colonized by a nation will receive the same religion and culture as the parent nation. In addition, no colonized province ever causes Overextension in the parent nation if left uncored. This applies even if the parent nation conquered land from another nation that had previously colonized it; as long as the province had ever been a colony in the past, it will cause no Overextension, though it may still have Unrest.

Colonial Subject Nations[edit]

Main article: Colonial nation
Main article: Trade company

Colonial Nations and Trade Companies are specialized Subject Nations that can be formed via Colonization (or conquest of the appropriate regions). Understanding both types of colonial subject nations is key to benefitting from the Colonization process.

Using Colonial Nations or Trade Companies to produce and control Trade Value in nodes, as well as utilizing them to gain free Merchants or military control of overseas territories, are some of the benefits these subjects can provide a parent nation.

Seven Cities of Gold and the Fountain of Youth[edit]

Main article: Seven Cities events

With El Dorado, using a Conquistador Conquistador to explore Terra Incognita in a Colonial Region will sometimes trigger events based upon the search (and sometimes discovery!) of mythical locations in the New World. These events can provide Monarch Points, Gold Icon.png Ducats or Prestige.png Prestige and add flavor and occasionally material benefit to the exploration of the New World.

Locality Failure Partially discovered Completely discovered
El Dorado -10 Prestige.png +5 Tax income.png for 50 years +10 Tax income.png / -1 National unrest.png
Cibola -10 Prestige.png +5 Tax income.png for 50 years +10 Tax income.png / +0.5 Prestige.png yearly
City of the Caesars -10 Prestige.png +5 Tax income.png for 50 years +10 Tax income.png / +0.5 Legitimacy.png or +0.3 Republican tradition.png yearly
Sierra de la Plata -10 Prestige.png +5 Tax income.png for 50 years +10 Tax income.png / +20% Better relations over time.png
Norumbega -10Prestige.png +5% Trade efficiency.png for 50 years +10% Trade power.png / +5% Ship durability.png
Kingdom of Saguenay -10 Prestige.png +5% Trade efficiency.png for 50 years +10% Trade power.png / +10% Trade efficiency.png
Quivira -10 Prestige.png +5 Tax income.png for 50 years +10 Tax income.png / +0.5 Prestige.png yearly
Fountain of Youth -10 Prestige.png +0.5 Prestige.pngfor 50 years +10% Trade power.png / +0.5 Prestige.png yearly

General Colonization Strategies[edit]

Proper colonization can provide many benefits for a colonizing nation. Determining where to colonize for the greatest benefit is usually dependant on two factors, firstly, the location of the colonizing nation's main trading port, and secondly, the technology group they belong to.

Historically, it was five powerful western European nations that worked to create vast and profitable empires overseas: Spain Spain, Portugal Portugal, France France, Great Britain Great Britain, and the Netherlands Netherlands. In EU4, however, any nation can create a vast colonial empire with proper planning.

In general, a player should only colonize overseas if they will eventually be able to bring Trade Value back to their home node. Many overseas provinces will generally provide little benefit aside from this, so that should usually be the player's main consideration.

With this is mind, some nations are much better positioned than others to take advantage of colonizable territory. To understand how to benefit from colonization, the player must look at the Trade Map Mode to understand how to bring Trade Value back home.

Here are some examples to clarify the strategy involved:

Example 1: Portugal Portugal's main trading port is in the Sevilla node. Sevilla connects directly to the Caribbean node in the New World, meaning that any trade value generated by colonized provinces in the Caribbean node can be pulled, with enough Trade Power, to the Sevilla node. As well, creating a Colonial Nation in the New World will provide 50% of that nation's Trade Power to Portugal, assisting in that process. Therefore the Caribbean is an excellent place to colonize for Portugal. The Caribbean node also connects to many other colonizable nodes, such as Mexico, Rio Grande, and others.
Additionally, the Sevilla node connects directly to the Ivory Coast node. The Ivory Coast node has many colonizable provinces and Trade Value from many other Trade Nodes with colonizable provinces flows into this node, including Brazil, Cape of Good Hope, Zanzibar, Amazonas, and many others. Controlling the Ivory Coast node would be a great idea for Portugal as over time, the player will be able to colonize other provinces in more far-flung areas, and as long as the player controls Trade Power along the whole route, they will be able to direct lots of Trade Value back to Sevilla. Portugal can create a Trade Company in Ivory Coast to assist with this.
However, Trade Value from the St. Lawrence, Ohio, Chesapeake, or Hudson's Bay nodes cannot flow to Sevilla. It is impossible. This means that colonizing these Trade nodes should only be considered when all other eligible locations have been taken. Even if Portugal took Important Trade Centres away from other colonizers, the only way to prevent Trade Value from reaching the nations in nodes such as English Channel would be for Portugal to have a merchant collect trade in one of these nodes, which would damage the trade power in all of Portugal's other nodes.
Example 2: Venice Venice is a Merchant Republic with strong trading ideas. However, by looking at the flow of Trade worldwide, the player will see that the only New World Trade Nodes that can ever connect to the Venice node are California, Mexico, and Rio Grande. Furthermode, Venice would need to have Trade Power in several nodes that are largely owned by other countries, such as the Mamluks Mamluks (Alexandria), Ming Ming (Hangzhou), and Japan Japan (Japan), before any significant amount of Trade Value could reach Venice.
Venice can eventually benefit from some Trade Company regions; if the player can control the Alexandria, Gulf of Aden, Ceylon and Bengal nodes via warfare, they can benefit from the colonization of Indonesia and even Australia. However, using colonization alone will provide almost no benefit to Venice. Due to their location, Venice will have a difficult time gaining Colonial Range to Indonesia regardless, until they can conquer the Horn of Africa.

Note that any nation can move its Trade Port to any other node where they have a province, even overseas. Before the player does this, they should ensure that they possess enough Trade Power in both the new home node, as well as upstream connected nodes, to make it worthwhile. Even so, the nation will still forfeit [[Trade#Trade value|Trade Value] generated in any nodes that do not connect to the new Trade Port, which may include nodes where that nation has many developed provinces. In general, a nation should have its Trade Port in the furthest downstream node to which it can control and push Trade Value.


Colonial Nations of 10 provinces or more, or Trade Companies that control 51% of Trade in a Trade company node, will provide the parent nation with an extra Merchants.png Merchant with the appropriate DLC (either El Dorado or Wealth of Nations provide this feature). These Merchants are invaluable as not only do they provide +10% extra Trade Power in the nation's home node while Steering Trade, but they also allow the nation to direct which direction to send trade in a node with multiple exits.

This second factor can make a significant difference in the amount of Trade Value a nation receives. Because of this, a player should prefer to place Merchants in nodes with multiple exits, so that trade can be steered towards the nation's home node. Nations will always use all their Trade Power in any node to pull Trade downstream, even without a Merchant, unless a Merchant is Collecting Trade in that location. Therefore, any upstream nodes with only one exit will automatically pull in the correct direction.

Example: Spain has 2 Merchants, and has colonized provinces in the Ivory Coast, Cape of Good Hope, Zanzibar and Malacca nodes. Spain should place the Merchants in Malacca (to steer trade to Zanzibar instead of Bengal) and Ivory Coast (to steer trade to Sevilla instead of Bordeaux, English Channel, or Caribbean). If Spain gets a 3rd Merchant, placing it in either Zanzibar or Cape is equally good, as Spain will get a +10% bonus to Trade Power regardless, and Zanzibar and Cape have only one exit.


For many nations in technology groups with higher penalties, using colonization is the quickest way to Westernize. To Westernize, the nation must either have a core adjacent to the core of a Western nation that is not a Trade Company, or own the core of a Western nation. Of course, the nation must also have a government that allows Westernization, so nations with the Steppe Horde, Native Council, one of the Tribal Governments or an unreformed Nahuatl, Inti or Mayan nation, must be prepared to reform their government or religion first.

Since taking provinces from Western nations can be impossible to accomplish for nations in poorer technology groups, this, in practice, means owning a colony adjacent to the a non-Trade Company colony, or Colonial nation, of a Western nation. Reaching the New World colonies of Western nations quickly is generally accomplished through a process known as 'Island Hopping'.

Island hopping[edit]

Early in the game when colonial range is short, island hopping is necessary in order to cross oceans large stretches of territory. Paying attention to Colonial Range can assist the player in reaching important provinces before AI nations, or finding the quickest way to Westernize by bordering a Western's colony or Colonial Nation.

A nation's base Colonial Range is 160 at Diplomatic Technology level 3 and 275 at Diplomatic Technology level 7. The 2nd idea in Exploration, Overseas Exploration, gives +50% Colonial Range. Thus, the most important range numbers are 160, 240, 275, and 412.

Atlantic Ocean[edit]

West Africa and the Central Atlantic islands are the fastest routes across the Atlantic. Without this, it will almost certainly take until Diplomatic Technology level 7 to reach the New World (in a historical setup).

Path Distances Notes
Iceland Reykjavik (Iceland) to Vestbygden (Greenland): 324
Vestbygden (Greenland) to Naskapi (Canada): 99
Iceland is controlled by Norway in 1444.
Central Atlantic Azores to Bermuda: 325
Azores to Trinidad: 301
Arguin to Rio Grande: 204
Cape Verde to Alagoas: 164
Cape Verde is typically colonized by Portugal early.
South Atlantic St. Helena to South Georgia: 283
St. Helena to Paraiba: 270
South Georgia to Falklands: 210
South Georgia to Rio Grande Do Sul: 196
Pacific Ocean[edit]

Alaska, in the far north from Siberia, is the fastest route across the Pacific. Failing this, it will require Diplomatic Technology level 7 to cross the Pacific. The other route is directly across the Pacific, hopping from island to island.

Path Distances Notes
Alaska Kagyrgyn to Aleut: 150
Aleut to Kenai: 237
Kagyrgyn is controlled by Chukchi in 1444.
Be careful that counter-intuitively Aleut-Kodiac is 246.
Central Pacific Ryukyu to Guam: 243
Hawaii to Pomo: 386
Once on Guam distances on the way to Hawaii are short.
South Pacific Fiji to Society Islands: 186
Society Islands to Tahiti: 160
Tahiti to Rapanui: 295
Rapanui to Galápagos Islands: 323
Rapanui to Coquimbo: 366
Indian Ocean[edit]

The Indian Ocean can be crossed to Africa with level 3 Diplomatic Technology and Overseas Exploration (Exploration Ideas).

Path Distances Notes
West East Africa to Mahe: Less than 160
Antananarivo (Madagascar) to Mauritius: 94
Mauritius to Diego Garcia: 185
Mahe to Diego Garcia: 220
Central Maldives to Diego Garcia: 85
East Christmas Island to Cocos Island: 86
Cocos Island to Diego Garcia: 187

The Random New World[edit]

If a Random New World is generated, it is important that the player discover the newly generated Trade Nodes as soon as possible, as the flow of trade may be such that a normally valuable Trade Nodes, such as Sevilla, can receive no Trade Value from the New World whatsoever. The player will have to adjust their colonization strategy to compensate for this, most likely focusing on Trade Companies or the static African and Asian colonizable areas instead.

Western Technology Nations[edit]

Befitting their historical importance in this field, Western nations, with their capitals in Western Europe, have the potential for the most monetary gain from overseas territories.

Western nations have no penalty to technology cost from their tech group, so they are able to advance in technology more quickly. This not only means that Western nations will be able to unlock Exploration and Expansion ideas more quickly than other nations, but it also means that their colonies will grow more quickly than other nations, will be more profitable, and will be protected more easily, due to higher Diplomatic Technology level providing extra Global Settler Increase, stronger navies, and more Trade Power and Efficiency. Western nations with their capitals in Europe are also the only nations that can form Trade Companies.

There is no territory in Europe for Western nations to colonize, so all territory colonized by these nations will either count as Distant Overseas or eventually form a Colonial Nation. Keep this in mind when colonizing as a Western Nation, as neither Colonial Nations nor Trade Companies provide very much benefit to a nation outside from the substantial boost to the player's economy; Trade Companies provide no Manpower, and the AI-controlled armies of Colonial Nations are often of little use.

Reaching India, the East Indies and the rest of Asia is a historical achievement for European colonizers. European nations with exploration idea group unlocked will receive the missions such as "Get into India" and "Establish a foothold in China/Spice Islands" in the mid- to late-game. These will always involve colonizing (or conquering) an Important Center of Trade province in a Trade Company region in this area.

Eastern and Anatolian Nations[edit]

For the most part, Eastern and Anatolian technology nations receive very little benefit from colonization. To receive any significant Trade Value from either the New World or important Trade Nodes such as Malacca, the player will have to conquer extremely large portions of Asia, which may be impossible, impractical or simply dull. In addition, Eastern or Anatolian Technology nations cannot create Trade Companies until they Westernize, as long as their capital is still in Europe.

The only Eastern technology nation that benefits substantially from colonization is Muscovy Muscovy, or any nation that conquers them early on, such as Novgorod Novgorod or Lithuania Lithuania. This is because it will allow the player to colonize the Siberia region, which will result in corable land with 0% Autonomy, and can result in several provinces with Gold as the Trade Good. These provinces are best taken advantage of using the colonist from the Expansion idea group, not Exploration. If the player can make it all the way to the east coast and can control the Hanzong or Beijing nodes, they can route trade from limited areas of the New World, specifically California, Mexico and Rio Grande.

Muslim Nations[edit]

Muslim technology nations only sometimes benefit from colonization; how much so depends on the Main Trade Port of the nation in question, since Muslim nations can range across a wide area.

Nations near the Gulf of Aden or Hormuz may benefit from Trade Value produced in Indonesia, China or India, but keep in mind that since these nations have a capital in Asia or Africa, they will never be able to create Trade Companies, even if they Westernize, so keeping control of Centres of Trade is necessary.

African nations may colonize African provinces and receive the full benefit from them, including 0% Autonomy. Likewise, Muslim technology nations with a capital in Asia may colonize Indonesia (which is in game a part of Asia) and receive the full benefit of these provinces, which may be significant due to the wealth of these provinces. Oman Oman is probably the biggest beneficiary of this fact.

Unless North African nations, such as Morocco Morocco, manage to control the Sevilla or Genoa nodes, these nations possibly derive the least benefit from colonization of any nation, as the trade route from Ivory Coast to Sevilla bypasses Safi. If a Random New World is generated, Trade Value may sometimes flow through the Safi node, making colonization strategies for these nations viable.

Indian Nations[edit]

Nations in this tech group exist in India but also along the East African (Somali) coast. Both kinds of nation can derive great benefit from colonization. Nations in India are part of Asia and as such can colonize Indonesia as full provinces, and in addition pull Trade from these provinces back to Bengal, Ceylon, or Goa. Due to the trade flow, nations in Doab, Kashmir or Lhasa benefit very little from overseas territory, but these nations should move their Trade ports to better downstream nodes as quickly as is convenient.

The Somali African nations cannot control Indonesia without it being Distant Overseas, but due to their location at or near the Zanzibar node, they are capable of pulling trade from Malacca directly to their doorstep. In addition, many provinces in Africa are empty and can be acquired as full provinces via colonization.

Indian technology nations are also the first technology group to substantially benefit from using colonization to Westernize, usually by proceeding around the Cape of Good Hope to Brazil.

Chinese Nations and Steppe Hordes[edit]

Chinese technology nations exist exclusively in Asia, and as so can receive the full provincial benefit of colonizing the Indonesia region, as well as creating a Colonial Nation in Australia. However, due to the trade flow in this area, no Trade from the Phillipines, the Moluccas, Australia or Malacca can be pulled back to the upstream nodes (Siam, Canton, Hanzong, Beijing) where most of these nations reside. Most mainland Chinese nations (including reformed Steppe Hordes) that wish to focus on Trade should move their Trading Port to the Malacca node once they can reasonably control that node. Bengal is also an alternative location that may be easier for some nations to control.

Chinese nations that are lucky enough to start in Indonesia, such as Pasai Pasai, Brunei Brunei or Malacca Malacca, often receive Colonists in their National Ideas and benefit immensely from colonization, not only by grabbing the rich domestic territory in Indonesia but also by preventing European colonizers from taking territory in the region. Colonial nations in California, Australia, Rio Grande, and Mexico can also send Trade Value to Indonesian trade nodes.

Steppe Hordes, or northern Chinese nations such as Korea Korea or Japan Japan, can use early colonization to take the uncolonized provinces in Siberia, which can contain Gold as well as limit the power of Muscovy Muscovy if necessary. A northern nation controlling the Beijing or Hanzong nodes can receive Trade Value from limited areas of the New World, specifically California, Rio Grande and Mexico, which makes colonial nations in this area beneficial.

With a Random New World, Chinese nations and Steppe Hordes may sometimes find large amounts of trade in the New World flowing to Girin, Japan, the Phillippines, the Moluccas or even Australia, making Colonial Nations even most useful in these cases.

Chinese nations in the south can use colonization to Westernize by either island hopping to the west, first to Africa and then to Brazil, or by going east along the Pacific islands to Panama and the Caribbean. Steppe Hordes or northern Chinese nations can either go east through Alaska and California to Mexico and Panama, or go west in the hopes of eventually bordering a westernized Russia Russia or Commonwealth Commonwealth, whom the player will be able to Westernize off directly.

Sub-Saharan Nations[edit]

These nations can derive great benefits from colonization, but there are risks involved due to the tendency of major European colonizers to focus on this area. There are many empty provinces in this area as well as around Africa itself that can be colonized, but Sub-Saharan nations face great danger if a European power declares war on them for this territory, so a player must consider the risks and may decide to focus on domestic affairs until the nation can Westernize. Unfortunately, quick colonization is also one of the easiest ways to Westernize, by going to Brazil. Alternatively, if a Western nation conquers any non-coastal province in Sub-Saharan Africa (other than in the Kongo region), these provinces are not eligible to join a Trade Company and so can be used to Westernize. If the province(s) that are conquered belong to the player nation, the player must first abandon all conquered cores, as a nation cannot Westernize if a Western nation owns one of their cores.

If some control of the Ivory Coast trade node can be secured, Sub-Saharan nations can benefit from Colonial Nations with provinces in the Brazil, Amazonas, Rio de la Plata, Cuiaba or Patagonia trade nodes. Ivory Coast also receives trade, either directly or indirectly, from nearly all of Asia as well as Australia, California, Mexico, and Rio Grande.

If a Random New World is generated, substantially more (or less) Trade Value may flow in Ivory Coast, making the node more (or less) valuable to control.

Native North and South American Nations[edit]

As these nations usually start with very few provinces in an area with large amounts of empty territory, colonization is essential to playing these nations. All North and South American nations can receive a bonus colonist through either their religious or government reform track, which can assist in obtaining as many provinces as possible. Nahuatl, Mayan or Inti nations will keep the bonus colonist even after Westernizing, as long as they keep their pagan religion.

Migratory nations can easily migrate to control Centres of Trade or Estuaries in their Trade Node of choice before commencing colonization, but this may put the nation in danger later in the game, as European colonizers prefer Centers of Trade over any other provinces, and may declare war to obtain one.

In general, colonizing towards the east coast of North or South America will result in quicker Westernization, but also comes with a greater risk of invasion by European powers before the player is prepared. Colonizing to the west will be in most cases safer, but may prevent the nation from Westernizing as quickly as it could have otherwise. Keep in mind that Native nations cannot colonize across sea zones until they Westernize, though they may colonize across straits.

Once a native nation's borders have expanded sufficiently, the player will want to move the nation's Main Trading Port as far downstream as is reasonable, as many trade nodes in North or South America are source nodes, or have a single preceding node, and thus are very poor. In terms of overseas territory, nations with their Main Trading Port in Panama can pull Trade Value from the Phillippines as well as nodes upstream of this, such as Hanzong. Most interestingly of all, nations with a Main Trading Port in the Caribbean can pull Trade from all of South America, most of North America, most of Africa, and nearly all of southern Asia, as the Caribbean node can pull trade from Ivory Coast or Panama. This makes the Caribbean by far the best home node for a nation in North or South America, but it may be very difficult to control.

Nations with their capitals in North or South America cannot form Colonial Nations or Trade Companies in any region (not even Australia). Colonies that would normally be ceded to Colonial Nations will remain as distant overseas provinces instead.

In a Random New World, the player should inspect their chosen nation to see if they can reasonably be played. Many Native nations generated in a Random New World are located on small, isolated islands, or smaller landmasses that have no uncolonized territory. This means that the player will be trapped on their land mass, as they cannot yet colonize over water. It will also mean that Native Councils, or nations of Nahuatl, Inti or Mayan religion, will never be able to border a western colony, and so can never reform their government until some territory is conquered by a Western nation, most likely from the player's nation. For American religious pagans, an absence of ownable territory or vassalizable nations may prevent the player from reforming their religion entirely.

When selecting a nation in a Random New World, either select an appropriate native nation on a large land mass with plenty of uncolonized territory, or select (or customize) a nation is not a Native Council, that is not an unreformed Nahuatl, Mayan or Inti nation, and that does not belong to the Mesoamerican, Andean, North American or South American technology groups.


  1. See in /Europa Universalis IV/common/static_modifiers/00_static_modifiers.txt (Static_modifiers#Colony level).
  2. See in /Europa Universalis IV/common/static_modifiers/00_static_modifiers.txt (Static_modifiers#Production efficiency).
  3. See in /Europa Universalis IV/common/static_modifiers/00_static_modifiers.txt (Static_modifiers#Native aggressiveness).
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