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The imperialism of these centuries was based on a number of "desires, needs, or attitudes."
First, there was the desire or need for money. One of the greatest causes of imperialism during this time was economic. This is why the British took control of India, and why it forced concessions from China.
Second, there was the desire or need for military power. This was a major reason for the US to take places like Puerto Rico, Guam, and Hawaii.
Finally, there was the attitude of racial superiority. Countries like the US and Great Britain argued that they were spreading superior civilization and culture by taking empires. This was a major reason why the US ended up taking the Philippines as a colony.
All of these were reasons for the imperialism of the time period that you mention.
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