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Difference Between Colonialism and Imperialism

warColonialism vs Imperialism
Colonialism and imperialism are often used interchangeably, but they are two different words having different meaning. As both colonialism and Imperialism means political and economic domination of the other, scholars often find it hard to differentiate the two.

Though both the words underline suppression of the other, Colonialism is where one nation assumes control over the other and Imperialism refers to political or economic control, either formally or informally. In simple words, colonialism can be thought to be a practice and imperialism as the idea driving the practice.

Colonialism is a term where a country conquers and rules over other regions. It means exploiting the resources of the conquered country for the benefit of the conqueror. Imperialism means creating an empire, expanding into the neighbouring regions and expanding its dominance far.

Colonialism is termed as building and maintaining colonies in one territory by people from another territory. Colonialism can altogether alter the social structure, physical structure and economics of a region. It is quite normal that in the long run, the traits of the conqueror are inherited by the conquered.

Colonialism is a term used to describe the settlement of places like India, Australia, North America, Algeria, New Zealand and Brazil, which were all controlled by the Europeans. Imperialism, on the other hand is described where a foreign government governs a territory without significant settlement. The scramble for Africa in the late 19th century and the American domination of Puerto Rico and the Philippines can be cited as examples of Imperialism.

In Colonialism, one can see great movement of people to the new territory and living as permanent settlers. Though they lead the life as permanent settlers, they still maintain allegiance to their mother country. Imperialism is just exercising power over the conquered regions either through sovereignty or indirect mechanisms of control.

Coming to the origin of the two, Imperialism has a longer history than Colonialism. While the history of colonialism dates back to 15th century, Imperialism has its origins dating back to the Romans.

Colonialism has its origins when Europeans started to look outside their country, pursuing trade with other nations. Though colonialism can be attributed to the trade pursuits of a country, Imperialism is just not like that and it involves individual pursuits only.

Coming to the etymology, colony comes from the Latin word colonus, which means farmers. Imperialism also comes from Latin word imperium, which means to command.

1.Colonialism is a term where a country conquers and rules over other regions. Imperialism means creating an empire, expanding into the neighbouring regions and expanding its dominance far.
2.In Colonialism, one can see great movement of people to the new territory and living as permanent settlers. Imperialism is just exercising power over the conquered regions either through sovereignty or indirect mechanisms of control.

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  1. goooooooooooooooooooddddddddddddd .information.It helped me a lot in making my project on “IMPERIALISM AND COLONIALISM”.




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  6. Nice Information that has not only updated my knowledge, but also has helped me immensely to use the correct terminology with the correct examples….Thanks a lot for posting this differentiation.

  7. thank you very much for this great work.i can now differientiate the two terms

  8. thank you very much for this great work.i can now differentiate the two terms.

  9. THANKS it really helped me on my project

  10. Thnks for the valuable info but i think
    anyways m open for any suggestions if wrong !

    thank you !

  11. yeh this is very helpfull thanks

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  14. Some parts of the writing in the article made it difficult for me to understand. From the research I have done I have found that these terms are mostly the same, and if you want to differentiate anything about what you are talking about you are better off just expanding your meaning with other words, rather than relying on a vague and pedantic differentiation that most people will not immediately understand.

  15. it is very informative.
    easy, understandable language!

  16. It is really informative! Though the ideas are briefly presented, it is more than enough to distinguish between colonialism and imperialism.Thanks

  17. Great information, very clear and precise!

    Side not:

    Colonialism was around in Ancient Greece, trade routes were established and land was colonized in Asia Minor, southern Italy and North Africa.


  18. Thank you very much it helped me a lot

  19. i’m dumb. so thanks for helping me with this

  20. This article makes me sick of my life.

  21. The analysis fails to deal with Islamic Colonialism/Imperialism. It began in the 7th century concurrent with the creation of Islam. All of those countries that you see today which people just blithely call “Islamic” were Christian, Jewish, Hindu and others for centuries before Islam was invented and went on the war path. That 80 million Hindus were killed by Islam remains such an obscure fact few know or mention when discussing Colonialism or Imperialism is a real disgrace. All of the Jews of Arabia were wiped out by Islam, something that Hitler failed to in Germany centuries later. Christian kingdoms throughout the Middle East and North Africa were decimated to the point that today Christians are token persecuted minorities. The danger in the West of failing to understand the history of Islamic conquest and spread is that it has resulted in a population so naïve that they are currently welcoming Islam into the West even though it is not compatible with the freedoms and rights of the West and worse, that no civilization has survived once having Islam spread within their borders. Spain did recover for a time after centuries of fighting, and the Jews have valiantly maintained their identity in spite of what we see in the news daily from their Muslim neighbors. But now Spain is welcoming Muslims in just like the rest of the West. America will not fare any better than any of the older, more established civilizations that were subjugated by Islam. Furthermore, the situation in the West is so bad, whoever monitors the comments make decide that this comment, though based ONLY on history, is too bigoted and hate-filled to even allow to be seen! What a tragedy.

    • I saw it….. I saw it. I will defiantly read into this because of you.. =)

    • Islamic conquests can’t be termed as colonialism because the ties with the mother country were cut off within a few years, the conquerors adopted the language and culture of the natives in case of Afghanistan, India and Central Asia. Nor were the resources in these countries transported back to the mother country. In India the majority remained non Muslim and in Indonesia which is the largest Muslim nation, never witnesses the presence of an invading Muslim army.
      No Muslim army carried out genocides of the natives similar to the kind carried out by Europeans annihilating natives in America or Mongols in large parts of Asia and Europe.
      But yes the case of Palestine can be termed as imperialism as it involves mass evacuations of indigenous populations apart from controlling precious water and land resources.

      • What can be more untrue that you this ! Even after millions of Hindus were killed during the Indian partition in 1947, you say that it was no killing in the name of Islam? A beautiful country lost its land and people in the name of religion (Islam) and cultural politics, and you don’t accept it ! Its language, Sanskrit, was badly pushed to margins with its speakers being forced to use Persian and later Urdu as a language–and you call it all went peaceful ! The people like Guru Govind Singh and their children were mercilessly killed simply because they did not convert–and you say Arabic Islamic imperialism is irrelevant to India !!
        Can you tell me what more does an invader need ? What else would you call IMPERIALISM ??

    • U r right. But God invented colonialism when he brought the government and culture of heaven down on earth through the humanity that He made in His own image to have dominion on everything on Earth. He has always wanted to duplicate on earth the things that are in heaven. Jesus Christ came to reign as King on earth. And He is coming back to complete the colonization process. Amen

  22. this was so much help, thank you. much better than what my professor was able to explain to our class. (:

  23. it reali helped in my assignments. tanx alot. expecting more gud works like dis one.

  24. Nice effort, but you end up saying they are same.

  25. THX i’m an idiot this helps 😀

  26. This really helped me with my essay for collage project

  27. I think according to this essay Islamic conquests fit the definition of Imperialism. There weren’t “settlers” in Isalmic periods. What happened is that the empire expanded to new territories and were made to covert to Islam. That’s why there’s an array of Islamic cultures nowadays. In other words, Muslims in Malaysia are different from the ones in India, China, Morroco, Iraq. Each maintained their original “indegenous” culture. This is different to the case of Canada, Australia, US (even Israel) which advocate modernism and modernity, envisaged in 17-19th century Europe.

    I’m not a historian but this is my analysis, I might be wrong.

  28. I’d like some pizza w/ a side of freedom

  29. thx. this was really helpful. explained better than my teacher! =)

  30. Anybody have Effingham?

  31. tooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo hot:::: ….thanx alot …i got t …

  32. Wouldn’t it be considered colonialism throughout Africa? We see the effects of population transfer today from European countries into the African continent.

  33. Thanks for the clarity. So in South Africa we are under both colonialism and imperialism systems: as the Europeans have physically invaded our land and also stole our resources.

  34. I think there is a far simpler and more distinct difference between imperialism and colonialism. Colonialism has to do with population migration.

    Empires can rule over a foreign state, use their resources and make their laws and no one from the imperial seat of power needs move to that foreign country.

    Conversely there can be a colony of Germans living in Venezuela without Venezuela being ruled by Germany. We plan to put colonies on the moon and Mars and there is no one there from whom to take the moon or Mars.

    So colonialism is about settling ones own people in a new place and imperialism is about taking over an existing state.

    • That would equate to colonisation, what you described. the key is to the suffix, -ation or -ism. ation being an action or process and an ism is an implementation of an adherence to a doctrine. This is why isms can be used to then discriminate.

    • i copy this for my rush assignment thank you.

  35. It completely make me crystal clear in use of these two terms☺

  36. Wonderful! Thanks heaps

  37. This answer is really awesome and besides the books do not show direct differences between Imperialism and Colonialism. Thanks a lot. This answer is reliable for students doing masters in english literature 🙂

  38. Nice explanation

  39. tnx a lot…dat was very helpful

  40. That is beneficial and unambiguous answer . Thanks alot !!!

  41. Thank you this has help at my assigment.

  42. Hi JCHS!

  43. That was very helpful, but should be translated in urdu

  44. This is quite helpful and tends to explain the both more

  45. So you are saying that a land that is ruled by a foreign power, but that foreign power did not populate it with its own citizens, then is not considered its colony and is not under its colonial rule. What is it then, a province under imperial rule?

  46. This is a wonderful article

  47. It is very useful. Thanks.

  48. I have the vivid explanation of everything. Thanks

  49. Well explained notes.

  50. I justified, what I read


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