The Reach of Imperialism

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Updated: Jul 21, 2019
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Imperialism”a policy of extending a nation’s power and influence over a weaker nation through diplomacy, military force, and economic means. Many countries and lands were dominated due to the abundance of raw materials and markets, lack of democracy and development. Many countries lost their power, freedom, and independence due to imperialism, and it affected them in many ways.

During the eighteenth century, the British took control of India in 1763 after defeating the French in the Seven Years War. The British controlled India through the British East India Company. Britain needed more land and workers to keep up with the Industrial Revolution and it also believed the Indian culture was inferior to its own and needed to be “civilized”. India was very valuable to the British because it had raw materials and large markets to sell British goods, and for this reason, Britain referred to it as “The Jewel in the Crown”. To infuse British beliefs, Britain wanted to combine European ideas with Indian tradition. The British wanted to create a class of people Indian in blood and color, but English in taste, opinion, morals, and intellect. The benefits of British rule were developments in education, and irrigation and railroads, the necessities for the cotton industry. Despite the benefits, in 1857 a growing distrust of the British led to a revolt that the British called the Sepoy Mutiny. The Indians called it the First War of Independence. It ended the period of the British East India Company controlling India. This resulted in Raj”the period of British government directly controlling India. Imperialism in other countries also had many positive and negative effects.

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During the nineteenth century, the major European powers scrambled to colonize Africa. There were many causes that led to the colonization of Africa. Africa had economic markets, and raw materials, such as copper, cotton, oil, and diamonds that Europeans wanted. Also, diseases that Europeans were immune to, but Africans weren’t spread. Africa was colonized in the 1850’s. Imperialism weakened African industries and overused the natural resources. Europe created mandates and made African states protectorates. There were only two states free of European control, Ethiopia and Liberia. European colonization also brought advances in health and education. Imperialism had many negative effects on Africans. Men were taken from families to work in fields, there was political unrest, and many lost the right to mine for natural resources in their country. Also, racism created brutality and the slave trade. Due to the unfair treating of the African people came the rise of African nationalism. Across Africa, native peoples began to organize parties and movements seeking the end of foreign rule. They wanted to be independent and self-governing. These effects of imperialism were also prominent in Southeast Asia.

During the nineteenth century, many western powers scrambled for new territories in Southeast Asia. There were four different groups that claimed lands in Southeast Asia”Dutch East India Company, Britain, France, and America. They colonized Southeast Asia because of its natural resources, such as timber, fish, iron ore and coal, and its strategic location in relation to China. The impacts of colonization on Southeast Asia were positive and negative. The impact of Dutch colonization, many Dutch moved to Indonesia and created a rigid social class: Dutch at the top, wealthy, educated Indonesians in the middle and plantation workers at the bottom. Impact of British colonization, it encouraged Chinese to move to Malays to work, causing Malays to become minorities in their own country. Impact of French colonization, local industries went down, peasants had less food because of the high amounts of rice being exported and the conversion of food crops to cash crops. Impact of American rule, modernization for transportation, health and education systems, some negative impacts were economic exploitation, sugarcane plantations in the Philippines and pineapples in Hawaii. There were also some effects to resist colonial rule. Many subject peoples in Southeast Asia resented colonization. Sometimes, the resistance to Western control took the form of peasant revolts. Early resistance movements failed. Then in the early 1900s, however, a new kind of resistance emerged that was based on nationalism. Imperialism motives are explained by these three key beliefs.

Racism, Social Darwinism and White Man’s Burden played an important role in the causes of imperialism. Racism is the belief that one race is superior to others. Social Darwinism is the theory “survival of the fittest”. The White Man’s burden is a phrase used to justify European imperialism, the desire of whites to uplift people of color. These concepts were used by colonizers to justify their actions of colonizing another nation.

In conclusion, many countries were colonized because of their markets, the abundance of raw materials, development and location in relation to other countries. The justifications of the colonization were that the colonizers felt it was their duty to take over, to relieve the nations of their struggles. Imperialism left a standing impact on the country, its cultures, and its native peoples as well.

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The Reach of Imperialism. (2019, Jul 21). Retrieved from