While many European powers established colonies around the world, three that are well known for their colonial exploits are Britain, France and Spain. All three established colonies in the New World, along with Portugal, the Netherlands and Russia.
The British Empire was the largest empire in history, accounting for one-fifth the world's population in 1938 and covering more than 12 million square miles at its height. It eventually fell into decline after World War II, and most of its colonial territories either gained independence or joined a commonwealth or states within the United Kingdom.
Spain and Portugal were the first countries to kick off the age of colonialism, establishing the first colonies outside Europe since the fall of the Roman Empire.