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...

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