Colonialism can be defined as an especially economic and cultural, albeit at times also territorial, submission of a dominant country over a foreign people for a prolonged period of time.
Colonialism does not necessarily involve the annexation of territories, but makes the inhabiting peoples dependent on the potential colony in every respect.
This phenomenon, despite existing since antiquity, had its maximum expression in the nineteenth century with the expansion of European powers.
Development of colonialism: causes
There are numerous and varied causes that can answer about the expansion of colonialism in this period, although the overpopulation of European countries throughout the 19th century was one of the main causes. This problem posed a direct threat to the lives of many Europeans at the time, causing high unemployment rates and a general malaise among the working class.
As a solution to this problem, emigration was presented as a prudent way out. The working class thus saw a way to improve their precarious living conditions. The bourgeoisie had new ground to expand their industries and their employees could quickly rise through the ranks in this new destination.
On the other hand, from an economic point of view, the increase in productivity resulting from the improvements implemented during the second industrial revolution caused an absolute increase in production , presenting most industrialized countries with a surplus and difficult placement due to trade policies of a nature protectionist that prevailed at that time.
Again, the solution found is due to the expansion of horizons, in this case, commercial ones. The colonies presented themselves as a perfect place to establish new economic relations, providing for the emergence of the international division of labor and so that the trade balance of European countries was resolved .
In addition, the colonies offered a great business opportunity thanks to the possibility of investing in agriculture , mines and the development of communication routes that ended up reverting benefits to the metropolis’ investors.
Still, the main cause that explains the desire for submission of these territories by the large metropolises directly derives from nationalism and the existence of a latent rivalry between the European powers, in this way, they want to see which country can conquer more and keep the greatest colonial empire.