What are three reason why European countries needed or wanted colonies?

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mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There were several reasons why the European countries wanted to have colonies. One reason was to gain resources. The Europeans needed raw materials to make products in their factories. They knew they could get these raw materials cheaper from their colonies than they could if they bought them from other countries. Also, mineral resources, such as gold and silver, could help make their countries wealthier. These factors helped spur European colonization.

Another factor was the desire for land and power. The Europeans were competing with each other for land and power. By having colonies around the world, the European countries could increase their status as hegemonic nations. By having colonies, the Europeans would have places where their ships could stop and get resupplied. These colonies could also serve as military bases in case of war.

A third reason for colonization was the desire to convert the people in these colonies to Christianity. For example, Spain believed that people who were not Christian were inferior. The Spanish hoped to convert people to Christianity and to show them how to live properly. This included practicing Christianity.

There were several reasons why the Europeans wanted to establish colonies.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Three possible reasons why European countries wanted colonies:

  1. Economics.  European countries felt that they needed colonies for two reasons having to do with economics.  First, they felt that colonies would give them a source of raw materials that they needed for industry.  Second, they felt that the colonies would be a captive audience for their manufactured goods.
  2. Prestige.  European countries did not want to fall behind in the race to be seen as major powers.  They felt that they would look more powerful if they had colonies and they feared that they would look weak and unimportant if they lacked colonies.
  3. Military power.  Possession of colonies would give countries the ability to project their power around the world more effectively.  It would give them bases for ships and soldiers far away from their own homeland.  This would give the European countries more military power far from home.

The European countries tried to get colonies for some combination of these three reasons.

scisser | Student

I would say that the main reason is money. By establishing colonies, the European countries have another market to sell their manufactured goods, thus increasing their wealth.

Another reason is slightly related to the first. The European monarchs believed that there was a lot of bullion, gold, and silver lurking in the colonies. They wanted to plunder those resources for profit. In fact, the entire purpose of the colonies was for the benefit of the mother country (something called mercantilism).

The last reason is power. The European monarchs consistently fought with each other over land. Why? This would make them seem more powerful. By controlling more colonies, the monarchs could prove that they were worthy of respect.

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