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There were a number of motives for this imperialism. The ones that are most commonly cited are:
- Economic gain. Countries wanted to gain empires so they could take resources from those empires and so that the empires could be captive markets for their goods.
- Military power. The larger the empire, the more the imperial country could project its power around the world.
- Imperial prestige. The larger the empire, the prouder the country could be. Having a large empire was seen as a sign that a country was a major power in the world.
- The "civilizing mission." European countries felt that they had a superior civilization and that they had an obligation to spread that civilization to other countries.
The most common motives for 19th century European imperialism are:
- Quest for more power: The most powerful military will have the most colonies and hence a quest for power broke out between european powers.
- Quest for raw material to propel their industries: Industrialization was rapidly taking place and to fuel this rapid growth raw material was needed, which was not available in europe.
- Quest for new markets to sell their increased production: Rapid industrialization led to higher production of goods, which needed new markets for their consumption and colonies served as an ideal ground for that.
- Political considerations: Each powerful country wanted its say in world economics and policy matters and a higher number of colonies simply exerted that power.
- Religious motives: Many christians believed people of other countries esp. in Africa and Asia to be religiously inferior and deeply believed it to be their duty to force a european way of education, life and religion on these regions.
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