What factors contributed to European imperialism in the 1800s?

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Many factors contributed to European imperialism in the 1800s—especially the latter half of the nineteenth century. Large areas of Africa and Asia were colonized.

One factor was the widespread desire to enhance national prestige. After France's crushing loss in the Franco-Prussian War, the French sought to recover national greatness by acquiring colonies. After becoming one nation in 1871, Germany worked hard to establish its own colonial empire. Even tiny Belgium colonized large tracts of land in Africa. Later, some leaders in the United States—including Teddy Roosevelt—successfully championed the cause of imperialism.

National security and the need for foreign military bases were important. The Suez Canal opened in 1869, and it linked Europe more closely to Asia. Britain took over Egypt to control the Suez Canal and maintain its sea links to India, an important British colony. The United States acquired military bases in the Pacific Ocean.

Social Darwinism contributed to colonialism. Charles Darwin's theory of biological evolution and "survival of the fittest" was adapted in order to justify white rule over other races. Herbert Spencer (1820–1903) and other proponents of Social Darwinism believed "inferior" races should be ruled by those who were more advanced.

There were also economic, religious, and humanitarian reasons for colonialism.

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A number of factors played into European imperialism during the 19th Century. These included economic, political, military, religious, and sociological motives.

The rising European economies of the Industrial Revolution meant that the demand for resources, cheap labor, and trade routes was at a premium. By acquiring colonies, European powers could exploit the resources of these colonial holdings and use the local population as laborers. Some colonies were acquired for the purpose of securing important shipping lanes and trade routes. This was the case with Great Britain and the Suez Canal in Egypt and with the Dutch and the Straits of Malacca. By controlling the source of raw materials, labor, and transportation, European powers effectively used their colonial holdings to grow their economies.

Political competition between the European powers was also a major motivator to expand colonial holdings. By the latter half of the 19th century, a land grab was in effect, particularly in Africa and Southeast Asia. Colonies had to be secured—and secured quickly, before one's rival could snatch them up.

As European powers were expanding their military might abroad, they needed to secure strategic bases around the world. In the age of the steamship navy, coaling stations were of extreme importance. As a result, many colonial holdings were established as military outposts.

To a certain extent, religious motivations also played into European imperialism. Christian missionaries established churches and schools around the world. Sometimes these missionaries were the vanguards of imperialism. For example, French missionaries in Vietnam were some of the first to encourage their nation to colonize Indochina.

Feelings of cultural superiority also contributed to European imperialism. These sociological motives were often used to justify the subjugation of local populations. Many European peoples felt that their customs and values were superior to those of other peoples. It was "the white man's burden," as Rudyard Kipling put it, to "civilize" these peoples.

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There were several factors that contributed to European imperialism in the 1800s. European countries were looking to expand their economic opportunities. They realized that if they could get colonies, it would be cheaper for them to get raw materials from their colonies than by having to purchase them from other countries. They also understood that having colonies would allow them a place to sell their products that were made in their factories. Colonies would allow for an opportunity for their economy to grow.

The Europeans were also competing for political power. They understand that the more land they controlled, the more powerful they would be. They would be able to get ports around the world where their ships could resupply and refuel. They could use the colonies as military bases if it was necessary to do that. It would make it easier for them to protect their world trade.

Europeans also had an interest in spreading their religion and way of life. Some European countries wanted to spread Christianity. Getting colonies would be a way to do this. Europeans believed their way of life was superior. Therefore, they felt they had an obligation to spread their way of life to people who were less fortunate.

There were many factories explaining the European interest in imperialism in the 1800s.

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European Imperialism during the 1800 had much to do with the economic benefits that came with creating colonies and plundering them. Many European nations wanted to maintain some sort of edge over rivals, and as nationalism increased, the pressure to be “the best nation” spurred many countries on to establish colonies in African, Asia and the South Pacific.

In order to obtain raw materials needed for production, European countries began exporting them from their colonies. Many of these colonies were held in place by puppet regimes loyal to the European power that really ran the show. These materials helped transform Europe into the manufacturing center of the world in the 1800’s.

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