Difference Between Imperialism vs Colonialism

Difference Between Imperialism vs Colonialism

Civilization has two faces — the good one and the bad. The good face promotes an improved way of living, while the other face secretly overlooks or even promotes the negative consequences of this so-called improved livelihood. Development often involves shifting balances of power.

According to historical records, colonized nations often have new languages, foreign cultures, and economic exploitation forced on them. Both diplomacy and domination play a part in this subjugation. In this post, we will be taking a look at the difference between imperialism and colonialism. These two terms are similar in the sense that they imply domination, but their modes of application are not the same.

Definition of Imperialism

Imperialism is defined as a plot to increase the power and control of an empire by dominating targeted regions through diplomatic, economic, and military influence. Every single time this plot was employed, there has always been a powerful military force backing it up. The essence of this force is to take away the region’s chance to fight successfully against the concept. This plot also functions on the basis of diplomacy as well.

This term is originally Latin and derived from the word “imperium,” which means “supreme power.” According to scholars, this idea of supreme power is what drives the action of conquering a group of people and taking over their economic and political autonomy. Typically, this plan is developed by stronger nations against weaker ones.

The height of the practice of this concept was between 1870 to 1914. These years were so defined by imperialism that they were termed “The Age of Imperialism.” The British are acknowledged to have begun these feats with five aims — economic growth, increased global leadership, exploration, inculcating ideological beliefs, and spreading certain religious beliefs and practices.

The people being dominated do not move away from their settlements. They retain their location, but they lose important aspects of their identities to the invaders. This is one of the most interesting facts in the colonialism vs imperialism comparison.

Definition of Colonialism

Colonialism is defined as a practice of acquiring partial or full domination of a region for exploitation and subjugation through force and diplomacy. This definition is somewhat similar when compared to the other case, but on a closer look, you will notice that this case concerns the practice, while the other case is an idea.

Colonialism can also be defined as an economic phenomenon involving various European nations that explored, conquered, settled, and exploited other less powerful nations. This practice exists in different forms—settler, exploitation, surrogate, and internal. After much research, scholars have come to the conclusion that there are four common characteristics of this practice.

  • Gaining leadership and legal domination over a nation
  • Bringing about economic dependence
  • Imposing racism and cultural inequality
  • Exploitation of the colony by the imperial power

To a lot of people, the imperialism vs colonialism discussion is considered a relic of the past, but this is not entirely true since millions of people still experience colonialism in this present time.

In developing nations, this practice has taken a new form; it is an update to historic colonialism but creates the same effects. It employs tactics such as conditional aid and cultural and economic globalization to influence the people of these developing regions.

Main Differences Between Imperialism vs Colonialism

Basis of ComparisonImperialismColonialism
DefinitionA policy aimed at the creation of an empire, expanding its borders to conquer more regions, and exerting notable influence over the conquered regionA practice of acquiring partial or full control of an area for exploitation and domination through force and diplomacy
StructureAn ideology that fuels explorations to subdue other territoriesA practice of the ideology
TypesFormal and informalSettler, exploitation, surrogate, and internal
First event1870s1500s

Difference Between Imperialism and Colonialism: Conclusion

At this point, we hope you have learned the fundamental differences between these two, despite their similarities. The main difference between colonialism and imperialism is that the former is a policy that drives the pursuit of world power in the past, while the latter is the practice that backs it up. These two were tools used to conquer numerous regions in Africa, Asia, Australia, and other places that are still influenced by these historic acts today.