a state or territory partly controlled by (but not a possession of) a stronger state but autonomous in internal affairs; protectorates are established by treaty
a relationship between two nations whereby a stronger nation controls the politics and economy of a weaker nation under the guise that they want to protect that country
a weak nation under the protection and partial control of a stronger nation
Any state or territory protected and partially controlled by a stronger one.
In international law a protectorate is a political entity (a sovereign state or less developed native polity, such as a tribal chiefstainship or feudal princely state) that formally agrees (voluntarily or under pressure) by treaty to enter into an unequal relationship with another, stronger state, called the protector, which engages to protect it (diplomatically or, if needed, militarily) against third parties, in exchange for which the protectorate usually accepts specified obligations, which may vary greatly, depending on the real nature of their relationship.