How did imperial powers benefit from imperialism in Asia and Africa?

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Western imperialists benefited from their imperialistic pursuits in Asia and Africa in four major ways. First, they gained access to valuable natural resources, such as cotton from India and gold from South Africa. By being able to cheaply import and use these materials, manufacturers at home were able to supply...

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Western imperialists benefited from their imperialistic pursuits in Asia and Africa in four major ways. First, they gained access to valuable natural resources, such as cotton from India and gold from South Africa. By being able to cheaply import and use these materials, manufacturers at home were able to supply affordable finished products to their domestic market as well as for export.

Imperialism also provided the imperial powers with cheap sources of labor. Local populations were usually exploited so as to provide manual labor for the benefit of the imperialists. These jobs were often ones that Westerners considered too dangerous or unpleasant for themselves. This might involve mining, farming, and manufacturing. Usually, these laborers toiled in their own land, but they often were brought to other parts of the empire or to Europe to work there as well.

Imperialists also used their power to create markets for their own products abroad. The most well-known instance of this was when the British used their military to force the Chinese to accept their opium imports in what is known as the Opium Wars.

The three previous benefits are all economic, but the imperialists also benefited militarily. Most imperialistic pursuits in Africa and Asia began by the 1870s. This was the height of the age of the steamship navy. In order for the imperialistic nations to better project their power abroad, they needed coaling stations for their ships spread out over the world. Consequently, they conquered a far-flung series of territories across Asia and the African coast in which to establish naval and refueling bases. This extension of military power helped to strengthen their imperialistic pursuits throughout the region.

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There is some controversy as to whether imperial powers actually did benefit from imperialism.  Imperialism is sometimes said to have been as much about national pride as about economic or strategic gains.

If imperial powers did benefit from imperialism, it was by A) taking the natural resources of the colonized places and B) by being able to project their military power over long distances.  England, for example, gained access to things like cotton and silk from India.  It also got opium, which it exported to China, thus helping to pay for the tea that Britain needed from that country.  England also made itself militarily strong by having bases in Africa and Asia from which its ships could control a great deal of area.

In these ways, imperial powers (arguably) benefitted economically and militarily from their empires.

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