What are the similarities and differences between the terms "colonialism" and "imperialism?"

The main similarity between the terms "colonialism" and "imperialism" is that they both describe exploitative relationships between those nations and/or people with power and those without. Colonialists and imperialists alike dominate those of distant lands, people they regard as racially or culturally inferior. The biggest difference between the two is that imperialism doesn't necessarily involve the process of colonization. For instance, the British didn't colonize India, the most important part of their empire.

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We can define colonialism as another, more powerful country settling in among the people of another country and expanding its influence until they have become the country's dominant force. Often colonization happens very gradually. Rarely, from the outside at least, does it look forced. For example, when the British first set up trading posts in India, their goal was not to colonize the country. They merely wanted to exploit India's resources and expand their influence in the subcontinent. Soon, however, they needed a cheap labor force to exploit the country's riches and an army to protect their interests. India wasn't officially ruled by the British crown until 1858almost 250 years after East India set their first trading post there.

We can define imperialism as another more powerful country exerting economic but ideological dominance over another without actually settling there or governing itat least, they don't officially govern it. They usually need to help that country set up a government that will enforce their ideas. For example, while Cuba became independent of the USA in 1902, Cuba was still subject to American influence. Havana, in fact, became a Mecca for American-style businesses.

Both imperialism and colonization involve the suppression of a people to work. Sometimes, such as in India, the suppressed far outnumber the suppressors, and the dominant entity has to keep control through force. This is not always through violence. Countries have maintained long periods of dominance through a claim of moral and racial superiority.

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Colonialism and imperialism alike involve the exploitation of distant lands and peoples. In that sense, they both involve domination and control. Behind such actions there is invariably an attitude of superiority towards those deemed less civilized or developed.

In the nineteenth century, which was the heyday of European colonialism and imperialism, white Europeansalmost without exceptionbelieved that subject peoples were racially and culturally inferior. This perceived inferiority was used as justification for the kind of economic exploitation that became part and parcel of the colonial project.

Although the underlying attitudes behind colonialism and imperialism are more or less the same, in practice some differences can be observed. For one thing, it is possible to operate an empire without necessarily colonizing land. In India, for example, the British did not colonize the country; there were no discrete communities of British settlers living among the indigenous population, yet India was the most important part of the British Empire"The Jewel in the Crown," as it was known.

In Ireland, on the other hand, it was a different story. There, the British settled in relatively large numbers, particularly in the north of the country. This ensured a Protestant ascendancy in Ireland that allowed the British to maintain effective control over the island for centuries.

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Colonialism refers to a national policy of taking over and administering distant territories. Usually, colonialism describes a situation like that of the British American colonies, where thousands of British people settled the region, bringing their culture and institutions with them. Other times, it can refer to a situation like Belgium's control of the Congo region in Africa in the late 19th century, where only a very small group of European people went to the region despite the fact that it was a formal colony.

Imperialism is more of an ideology. Historically, it has often entailed colonialism or the acquisition of territories around the world, but this is not necessarily always the case. For example, most would agree that the involvement of the United States and many European nations in Central America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was imperialistic. American and European corporations invested heavily in the region—buying up mines, timber, and productive lands. When political strife threatened their investments, American troops intervened to secure affairs. Similarly, American and European efforts to force access to Chinese trade markets were imperialism at work, even though they took over only a minimum of actual territory. Despite these differences, imperialism and colonialism are so close in meaning that they can often be used in the same ways.

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These two terms have a great deal in common, but also have real differences.  Both of them refer to the practice of one country dominating another.  In both, the dominant country has political and economic control of the country or region that it is dominating.  In this sense, the two are very much the same thing.

The main difference is that colonialism generally refers to a situation in which a large number of people from the dominant country move to the dominated country.  This was, for example, the situation with British colonization of what is now the United States.  By contrast, when the United States took possession of the Philippines, it was much more of an example of imperialism because there was no large movement of Americans going to the Philippines to make their fortunes there.

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