It is my first game in Europe 4: i didn't play any paradox game earlier and am confused of how colonies work

Now I have 6 colonial provinces with total income of my colonies (French Brazil) around 55. With viceroy =20% I earn from colony (Tariff efficiency) 0.75 per month (if we trust economy tab of my empire).

In the same time, until provinces joined as "French Brazil" and were just part of my country each of them with tax income around 3-4. I don't have old saves so can't proof, but I believe 4 provinces were contributing more than current 6 joined together.

I believe colony itself will keep invading other provinces that will raise my profit from colony, but my 2 colonists cost me 8 gold per month!!! And I have zero to nothing income from colony for years...

What I'm doing wrong? How to raise income from colony to be profitable?

Should I restrict amount of invaded provinces to be 4 so they don't join into another country?

5 Answers 5


If you establish a 5 province colony in both North and South America and they grow further by themselves you actually have quite a solid investment. In your original question you seem to have overlooked the Trade Power transfer that you get from your colonies.

Just keep in mind that the trade from the West is distributed among the 3 CoT on the West coast of Europe unevenly. If you are playing as Portugal for instance, having a colony in the Northern US is a lot less beneficial to you.

In the end, the additional Trade Value generated by the colonies once they have expanded, transferred to your home Center of Trade in part because of the "free" trade power you get from your colonies, should give you a pretty nice return on the investment you provided.

If you do need to have a faster return of investment you can always raise the tariff levels, although this does mean a higher Liberty Desire.


I believe all of which you describe is intentional, by design, to prevent colonization from becoming too powerful. Certain countries would have a too easy time (e.g. Portugal).

Note that (without mods), colonies only are created in the Americas, not in Africa or Southwest-Asia. This correlates with the difficulty of creating a colony - the Americas are vastly easier to colonize since they got far fewer negative factors (tropical etc.). Until a recent patch, you'd even only get a 1% settler increase in most of Africa, whereas the Americas regularly had 20% or more - that is a difference of several years of time taken to colonize.

You will notice another negative aspect soon: You colonies tend to drag you into war with the other col powers (mainly England, France, Spain, Portugal, or more precisely, their respective colonies). This can be annoying, but I like to think it makes the games more interesting and adds a certain balancing element to the European theater.

Update: Note that colonies do not add to overextension.

  • Than it sounds reasonable: 1. to not invest much into colonization (or just do that the 1st), 2. if you not 1st, don't have more than 4 colonized provinces so they don't separate. Is that true?
    – Budda
    Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 22:08
  • I almost tend to say yes, though I think there is not really a answer. It pretty much comes down to what you want to play. If you really hate colonies, don't bother with the Americas - it's inefficient to only create a small base, as it can be overwhelmed by other powers easily. A substantial colonial force, however, could defend itself properly.
    – mafu
    Commented Mar 16, 2015 at 2:50
  • I've found colonies to really only be useful if you're already focused on trade in Europe. Even then, they're not profitable for a while. Commented Apr 17, 2015 at 7:52

To extend on what @Richard-ten-brink said, yes, colonies give you 50% of their trade power to you in all nodes where they have power. This is fantastic and as time progresses and they cover more of their colonial regions you'll find the wealth they bring to your home node (provided the colonies align with your trade flow) will grow to ridiculous proportions.

If you want even more money aside from trade wealth (which ends up being the highest at the end of the game usually), then you can up the tariffs, which makes them more likely to seek independence. You can also increase your tariff efficiency with idea groups and policies http://www.eu4wiki.com/Policies See here for tariff information. http://www.eu4wiki.com/index.php?title=Colonial_nation&redirect=no#Tariffs

I more recent patches colonial nations have been more likely to actively join in your wars, even in Europe. I've had instances where my Mexican and Caribbean nations have sent fleets with armies into the Mediterranean and laid siege to Italian and Croatian provinces.

As for the cost vs benefit for growing colonies, I advise you start small and don't have more colonies than you have colonist unless you're swimming in cash (Portugal can do this with relative ease).


After completing few games I've found that colonies are great, are here are reasons:

  1. They start slowly, but with your help keep growing. In the late game they become as strong as 20-40 provinces and contribute significant money to you. Playing France with total taxation = 100, production = 229, trade=126 in the enf I had 111 income from tariffs (subjects)
  2. They also bring some army and navy and could significantly help you taking down opponents even in Europe (same example: only FrenchBrazil had 100 units of army and 90 of navy).
  3. They help you to start wars in Americas and pull their overlords from Europe into war without getting too much landlord allies.
  4. Invaded countries in America doesn't bring overextension penalties so you can invade A LOT of provinces in the single war
  5. Even better with Africa and India: these countries don't become colonies, but remain the part of your country and still cost very little monarchy points to get them 'on board'.

Most Colonies are more for their value of trade then anything else (they also give you a large boost to your naval force limit).

The tariffs you get from them are...ok...but once they get high enough (discounting bonuses from ideas and policies which don't increase liberty desire) it starts making them rebellious.

Now...if you have colonial mexico on the other hand and took everything in Central Amercia where the Aztecs were...that is a cash cow because it has so many gold mines which fill up and deposit rather large lump sums of cash periodically as gold-shipments something around 100-200 gold per year or so.

I typically expand a colony in each region till it hits 10 cities for the +1 merchant, and then ignore it while i focus my efforts towards Africa and Asia with trade-companies, while working to get a monopoly on all of the end-node trade regions in Europe.

And so many colonies gives you a large amount of trade power to help steer trade to where you can most benefit from it.

due to the distant overseas penalty there is very little point to hold that territory directly since even the trade value is decreased, but putting under the control of a colony/vassal/trade company/protectorate, you can get SO much more money from the trade value then holding it normally.

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