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This article is about territorial expansion. For the architectural style, see American colonial architecture. For examples of colonialism that do not negative effects of...

This article is about territorial expansion. For the architectural style, see American colonial architecture. For examples of colonialism that do not negative effects of colonialism in africa pdf to modern Western colonialism beginning in the 16th century, see Colony and Colonization.


Colonialism is the policy of a nation seeking to extend or retain its authority over other people or territories, generally with the aim of developing or exploiting them to the benefit of the colonizing country and helping the colonies modernize in terms defined by the colonizers, especially in economics, religion and health. The European colonial period was the era from the 15th century to 1914 when Spain, Portugal, Britain, France, the Netherlands, Germany and several smaller European countries established colonies outside of Europe.

The system practically ended 1945-1975 when nearly all colonies became independent. At first, the countries followed a policy of mercantilism, designed to strengthen the home economy at the expense of rivals, so the colonies were usually allowed to trade only with the mother country. By the mid-19th century, however, the powerful British Empire gave up mercantilism and trade restrictions and introduced the principle of free trade, with few restrictions or tariffs. Christian missionaries were active in practically all the colonies.

By the late 19th century Japan was an active colonizer. Collins English Dictionary defines colonialism as “the policy and practice of a power in extending control over weaker peoples or areas. Webster’s Encyclopedic Dictionary defines colonialism as “the system or policy of a nation seeking to extend or retain its authority over other people or territories.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary offers four definitions, including “something characteristic of a colony” and “control by one power over a dependent area or people. The 2006 Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy “uses the term ‘colonialism’ to describe the process of European settlement and political control over the rest of the world, including the Americas, Australia, and parts of Africa and Asia. It discusses the distinction between colonialism and imperialism and states that “given the difficulty of consistently distinguishing between the two terms, this entry will use colonialism as a broad concept that refers to the project of European political domination from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries that ended with the national liberation movements of the 1960s. In his preface to J├╝rgen Osterhammel’s Colonialism: A Theoretical Overview, Roger Tignor says, “For Osterhammel, the essence of colonialism is the existence of colonies, which are by definition governed differently from other territories such as protectorates or informal spheres of influence.

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