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Imperialism is the act of imposing command or rule through an empire over foreign countries for political and economic benefits. Imperialism occurs when a weaker nation or region is taken over by a strong nation. The strong nation dominates the political, economic and the cultural life of the weak nation. This kind of foreign policy was practiced mainly by European nations in the 1800s and in the early 1900s (Imperialism in South East Asia 3).
The diplomatic competition that existed amongst European nations fueled by industrialization and nationalism led to imperialism of weaker regions in Africa and Asia. The European nations wanted to exercise and demonstrate their power to the rest of the world. At the height of imperialisation, the British Empire had conquered many nations than the rest of the European empires. During this time the Europeans regarded Africa as the "Dark Continent" because they did not know anything about its interior.
The availability of raw materials and natural resources in Africa and Asia highly contributed to imperialism in the two continents by the Europeans. Industrialization in Europe made the European nation to search for supplies of natural resources to run their factories. Some of the raw materials which were exported to Europe from West Africa include timber, palm oil, ivory and rubber. They also wanted cheap labor and market for their goods (Candice 1)
The pressure to practice imperialism was also contributed by competition amongst the Europeans to rule a large region. Citizens felt proud when their country conquered many nations. Because of their sense of superiority, the Europeans felt compelled o civilize the uncivilized. The also wanted to bring their inventions and technology to Asia and Africa as well as to spread their religion.
The British established their empire in Egypt in 1869 upon the completion of Suez Canal. This is because the canal provided them with a direct route to India. In South Africa, they were attracted by the discovery of Gold in the virgin lands. The British also had interest in East Africa because it was a source of slave trade. They were also interested with Uganda because it was the source of the Nile River where the Suez Canal was built (Adam Letcher 1)
In Asia, the European nations desired the lands in the Pacific Rim because of their strategic position along the sea and the route to china. The Western nations also recognized that the Pacific colonies were rich in minerals and oil as well as fertile soils for agriculture. The European powers appreciated this area and competed to win colonies here. (Imperialism in South East Asia 5)
While competing for this region, the British established a trading port in Singapore, which was the major trading centre in the region. The French empire took Indochina which is on the Southeast of Asia mainland. The Germans claimed parts of the Solomon Island, New Guinea and the Marshall Island.
The Western imperialism in both Africa and Asia succeeded in just a few decades because The European nations had strong economy. They also had stable governments and strong military troops and powerful machine guns. They were not afraid of the tropical diseases such as malaria since they had quinine, a malaria drug. (The New Imperialism 25)
One of the best impacts of imperialism is that many Africans and Asians were offered the western education system. This was a fundamental impact that has changed the lives of many up to date. Some East African countries like Kenya and Uganda adopted the British education system which changed a little when the countries gained independence. The British established schools where they offered free education. Through this education, Africa and Asia have been able to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of technology and civilization little.
The western nations built infrastructures such as roads, railways and canals in Africa and Asia. A good example is the Kenya- Uganda railway which was constructed by the British Imperial East Africa company. In Asia, the British were able to lay the world third largest railroad network. The railway road ensured efficient transportation of raw products and manufactured products. This boosted the economy of India. They also introduced telegraph and newspapers. All these developments coupled with a civilized education system boosted the economy of Asian and African countries. The colonial governments introduced better medical care and improved sanitation methods. This led to a decline in infant mortality rates as well as improved health conditions (Adam 28).
Africans and Asians were treated cruelly and overworked by Europeans who were seeking for cheap labor. They also ran their authoritative governments on a racist and classes underlining. The best farmland was given to the White settlers who also enjoyed first class citizenship. This favoritism led to brutal wars in South Africa between the Whites ad the Blacks. The racial discrimination eventually led to apartheid.
European imperialism caused a great massacre between the Hutus and Tutsis of Rwanda. The Belgium Empire while in Rwanda favored Tutsis who were the minority group and when they left, the Hutus began revenge.
The mineral resources in the mother countries were exploited by the European empires as they were exporting them to their countries. For example, the British Empire was controlling the gold and diamond mines in South Africa. In India the British held much of the economical and political power. They restricted some industries owned by the Indians such as the cotton textiles. They emphasized on cash crops and this caused famine due to limited food production. (British Imperialism in India 4)
The introduction of opium by the British in China led to addiction and cause constant Opium wars in China. This caused great misery and suffering to many Asians. The Europeans considered Asians inferior and barbarians and despised their culture.
European economies benefited from cheaper raw materials and a ready market in Asia and Africa. This led to spread of economic domination of many European nations. The economic impacts on the British Empire during imperialism, laid a stable foundation for Britain's modern economy. The competition between European nations to conquer many countries led to diplomatic crisis in Europe. This rivalry caused constant wars between these nations and eventually caused The First World War in 1914 (Adam 22).
During imperialism there was hatred and prejudice amongst the Western nations which gave birth to today's racism that exists in Europe. This was due to the fact that some people thought they were more superior to others.
Despite many negative impacts of new imperialism, it was a positive phenomenon. The western nations enjoy the legacy of modern education and civilization in Africa and Asia. The education improved interactions between countries especially those that were under the same empire. This is because they adopted the foreign languages which they use as official languages.
Imperialism laid a foundation for today's international trade and relations. The Europeans while in Africa and Asia introduced the concept of exporting raw materials and minerals to their countries. Countries can easily export what they have in surplus to other nations and import what they need. Imperialism led to spread of technology in the continents of Asia and Africa. The two continents could still be far much behind in terms of technology. The technical know how has created employment in many sectors in the two continents (Adam 34).
Some may criticize imperialism because of the negative impacts it had on Asians and Africans, but I consider this as the price they had to pay for the many positive impacts it brought to them.