Austrian colonisation of Nicobar Islands

Austrian Colonisation Of Nicobar Islands

Austrian colonisation of Nicobar Islands

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Austrian colonisation of Nicobar Islands was a short-lived and unsuccessful attempt of Austrian Empire to make Nicobar Islands (an island chain in the eastern Indian Ocean) their colony. The colony was established in 1778. This had previously been a Danish colony and Austria established it with the mistaken assumption that Denmark had abandoned its claims to the islands. However by 1783 due to lack of support the last colonists left.

The start was made by Maria Theresia and Joseph II who, in the 1760s, wanted to set up trading posts in Asia for the distribution of Austrian products. It was more a whim than a serious project since the largely land-based Austrian empire did not have adequate sea power to acquire, defend and supply remote possessions. More serious actors on the world wide colonial stage at that time were Spain, Portugal, Great Britain, Holland and France.

The Austrian Habsburg rulers chose the Dutchman William Bolts as advisor. He had been active in the British East India Company but had been convicted for trading with opium and dismissed. In 1774 he travelled to Vienna to convince the inexperienced Austria of the feasibility of trade between Trieste and the Far East.

What had started as a secret project with a falsely British-flagged ship very soon collapsed. However, in 1778, after surmounting enormous difficulties, the Austrian vessel "Joseph and Maria" finally reached the Nicobar islands which had only recently been abandoned by the Danes. The Danes...
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