Colonial expansion is ... Colonial expansion: concept, direction, history and description

Marine colonial expansion is a policy according to which the richest countries of the Old World traded with or lived in dependent territories on other continents. With the passage of time, it turned into a race of leading powers struggling for world domination.


European colonial expansion began in the 15th-16th centuries, at the dawn of the era of great geographical discoveries. In the Late Middle Ages in the countries of the Old World, rare and exotic goods from the countries of the east were particularly valued in the markets . For example, it was spices that allowed to store food for a long time. Now it seems funny, but it was then muscat worth its weight in gold.

At the same time in Europe, the Renaissance began, which was accompanied by the growth of scientific knowledge. Colonial expansion is, first of all, a large fleet. The first ships of a new type that could cross the ocean and leave the inland seas appeared in Portugal and Spain. These were the young kingdoms that had just been created in the territories liberated from the Muslims.

With the money of merchants and, partially, with the support of the state, bold seafarers began to seek a sea route to rich India. To do this, it was necessary to go around Africa. In 1492, a Spanish expedition led by Christopher Columbus took another route - straight to the west. And she discovered America. The colonial expansion of the colonial countries was born precisely because of this event.

Spanish expansion

The first major colonial empire was Spain. It was under her flags that seafarers discovered America. The Spanish kings hoped to find gold and silver on the new continent. Noble metals really were in the Andes. When this became known for certain, crowds of adventurers rushed to America.

The silver mines of Peru allowed Spain to become the most powerful European state in the 16th century. Colonial expansion is also inhuman treatment of local residents in dependent territories. American Indians became the first victims of European imperial interests. They died in millions because of the deadly diseases for them. In addition, the Catholic Church played an important role in Spain. The monarchy set the task of baptizing all the Gentiles from distant lands. This policy encouraged the atrocities of the Inquisition.

In the heyday of the Spanish colonial empire belonged to the whole of Central and South America. The exception in this region were only the territories on which Brazil later appeared. These lands belonged to Portugal.

Portuguese Colonies

If Spain mastered America, Portugal was more engaged in establishing reliable trade relations with India. This was the main difference between the first two colonial empires. The Spaniards tried to conquer the lands in the depths of new continents. The Portuguese, on the contrary, did not leave the coastal areas. The forts were built here. Through them new products were sent to Europe.

It was spices, ivory, and other luxury items. Even more important was the discovery of American crops: potatoes, tomatoes, corn, etc. The Europeans' diet changed before our eyes. Enough traders made huge fortunes on the monopoly trade in these rare goods. The beginning of the colonial expansion differed in that it was largely undertaken for opportunistic reasons. When it became clear that the new lands promise huge profits, new European powers joined the race. Trade wars became commonplace.

Decline of Spain, the rise of England

In the XVII century, the Spanish colonial empire fell into decay. There were several reasons. The monarchy spent all of its American gold on the maintenance of armies and costly wars in Europe. At this time in the Old World another round of conflict between Catholics and Protestants erupted. The Thirty Years' War began, and the mercenary armies, bought for Spanish money, flooded Germany and the Netherlands. Because of its unsophisticated policy, Spain lost all the advantages that were given to it at the very beginning of the colonial race.

The main enemy of the Madrid court was England. In this country in the XVII century there was a bourgeois revolution, which left an absolute monarchy in the past. Free trade and capitalism developed in the country. Soon a powerful fleet appeared.

The British Empire

The directions of the colonial expansion of England were very different. The first settlements appeared in North America. Already in the XVIII century, James Cook discovered a distant Australia, which completely passed to Britain. The pearl of the English crown was India. The first colonies here were still Portuguese, but over time Lisbon lost the economic struggle to London and, for the most part peacefully, sold its possessions.

Local Indian population professed a variety of religions - Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. On the subcontinent was a huge number of nationalities, because of which there was a constant political fragmentation. Part of this, and in part, technological superiority allowed the British in the XIX century to completely capture the country. Indian colonial expansion is a perfect example of how the economy of a subordinate country worked for the metropolis.

The Destiny of America

Settlements of the English in North America also developed rapidly. In this region, their colonies eventually appeared in France and the Netherlands. But it was the confrontation between Paris and London that became the main on the mainland. At the end of the 18th century, the English colonies proclaimed their independence and formed the United States of America. The new state has already independently explored and inhabited the western territories.

A similar fate awaited the Spanish colonies. At the beginning of the XIX century, residents of South American countries declared war on independence from the mother country, which they safely won. Thus, there remained only one major region, still not divided between the European colonial powers. It was Africa. The war for it was still ahead.

The struggle for Africa

For a long time Europeans remained only on the coast of Africa. From here the colonialists took a huge number of slaves, who were carried on ships to America. There, the work of blacks was used as a cheap labor force. The notion of colonial expansion necessarily involves discrimination of the local population, which (as Africans) became slavish.

But the real section of the "black continent" occurred in the second half of the XIX century. By that time, slavery had already been abolished in most European countries, which, however, made the treatment of local residents a little more humane. On the eve of the First World War in Africa there were colonies of various countries: France, Great Britain, Portugal, Belgium, the Netherlands. The last to race for territory were joined by just educated Germany and Italy.

The First World War began as a dispute for domination in Europe, but it also affected the redistribution of the colonies. It was then that the Entente countries received mandates in the territories in the Middle East. This region for a long time belonged to the Ottoman Empire (Turkey), which collapsed. Arab territories in the main went to Britain, however, their legal status was already very different from the previous colonies.

Refusal of colonies

The twentieth century passed under the banner of decolonization. This was the process of gaining independence by the countries of Africa, the Middle East, India, etc. It became particularly active after the end of World War II. The former African colonies still bear the imprint of their former belonging to their metropolises. In such countries, the official language is usually English or French (in addition to the national dialect).

The largest colonial power - Great Britain - created the Commonwealth, within which it actively cooperates with its former colonies today.

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