A satirical representation of Spanish imperialism in central and southern America

Imperialism is a system where one powerful nation occupies, controls and exploits smaller nations. Number of European nations were imperial powers front to world War I. Royal rivalry and competition for new territories and also possessions fuelled tension between major European nations and also became a variable in the outbreak the war.

What is imperialism?

As mentioned above, imperialism is a mechanism where a large, powerful country dominates and also exploits smaller nations, i m sorry are known as colonies. Together, the imperial power and also her swarms are well-known as an empire.

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In most cases, the imperial nation is euphemistically described as the ‘mother country’. That establishes control over its colonies against their will certainly – for example, v infiltration and also annexation, political pressure, battle or armed forces conquest. Once regulate is established, this region is asserted as a colony.

Colonies room governed by either the imperial nation, a puppet government or regional collaborators. A armed forces presence is frequently stationed in the colony, to keep order, suppress dissent and also uprisings and deter imperial rivals.

Imperialism can have military or geopolitical advantages but that main lure is economic. Colonies exist chiefly to enrich the royal power. This may involve the supply of precious metals or other resources, such as timber, rubber, rice or various other foodstuffs. Swarms can also be invaluable resources of cheap labour, agricultural land and also trading ports.

The brothers Empire

A representation of brother imperialism in Africa, ‘from Cairo to the Cape’

Prior to civilization War i the world’s largest, richest and most leading imperial power was an excellent Britain.

The British realm famously inhabited one-quarter of the world (“the sun never sets on Britain” to be a famed slogan that the mid-19th century). British early american possessions in the so late 1800s had Canada, India, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Burma, Australia, brand-new Zealand, Hong Kong, number of Pacific and Caribbean Islands, southern Africa, Rhodesia, Egypt and other components of Africa.

Many that these nests were acquired with little difficulty. Others took much more time, effort and bloodshed to conquer. Britain’s salvation of south Africa, for example, adhered to costly wars versus the Zulus (native tribes) and also Boers (white farmer-settlers of netherlands extraction).

British imperialism was concentrated on maintaining and expanding trade, the importation of life materials and also the revenue of manufactured goods. Britain’s royal power to be reinforced by her powerful navy, the world largest, and also a fleet that mercantile (commercial) vessels.

Other European royal powers

France to be another significant imperial power. French royal holdings contained Indochina (Vietnam, Laos and also Cambodia), some Pacific islands and also several swarms in west and also north-west Africa.

The German Empire contained Shandong (a district of China), new Guinea, Samoa and also other Pacific islands, and also several nests in central and south-west Africa. The Spanish empire had once consisted of the Philippines and large parts of south America, despite by the at an early stage 20th century Spain’s royal power to be dwindling.

Empires closer to continental Europe contained Russia, Austria-Hungary and also the ottoman sultanate. Russia ruled over Finland, Poland and several central Asian areas as an royal power. Russia’s destructive war against Japan in 1904-5 was an attempt to expand her imperial reach into Korea and also northern China.

Despite blame to of europe imperialism in America, the joined States likewise engaged in some empire building, specifically towards the end of the 1800s. Here is a list of the more far-ranging imperial powers of the early 1900s:

Global realms in 1914

The brothers Empire soaked up India, south Africa, Australia, new Zealand, Canada, Hong Kong, parts of north Africa, archipelago in the Pacific and Caribbean and concessions in China.

Russia ruled contemporary Poland, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Ukraine, Georgia and also several areas in central Asia, such together Kazakhstan. Russia likewise had early american interests in east Asia, including a concession in China.

France maintained swarms in modern Vietnam, Laos and also Cambodia, areas of West Africa and also India, small possessions in south America, and islands in the Pacific and Caribbean.

Germany had actually seized manage of contemporary Tanzania, Namibia and Cameroon in Africa, German new Guinea, some Pacific archipelago and critical concession in Shandong (China).

Austria-Hungary possessed no nests outside Europe however was an empire nonetheless, ruling over several various regions, ethnic and language groups. Among its regions were Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, Galicia, Transylvania, the Tyrol and, after ~ 1908, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Spain as soon as possessed a huge empire that contained Cuba, the Philippines and big areas of south America – but by 1914 the Spanish to be left with only tiny colonial territories in the Americas and north-west Africa.

The unified States was a relative newcomer come imperialism but by 1914 had gained regulate of the Philippines, Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico and also several archipelago in the Pacific. Though later absorbed into the unified States, both Alaska and also the Hawaiian Islands could be considered early american acquisitions.

The footrest Empire was once the largest realm in the world, soaking up Eastern Europe, the center East and much of north Africa. Ottoman territory had shrunk significantly but by 1914 the sultanate preserved the love of its old empire: modern-day Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Armenia and Macedonia.

Portugal in 1914 was the royal ruler of modern Angola and also Mozambique in Africa, Goa (India) and also East Timor (Indonesia).

Belgium was one of the smallest nations in Europe yet still own a far-reaching African swarm (Belgian Congo) as well as a tiny concession in China.

Holland had several small colonial possessions in south America (Dutch Guyana), Asia (Batavia, or modern-day Indonesia) and also the Pacific.

Italy by 1914 had actually moved right into northern Africa, annexing modern-day Libya, Somalia and also Eritrea. It also held a little concession in China.

The scramble because that Africa

A british cartoon ridiculing Belgian early american rule in Africa

The second half of the 1800s produced a significant ‘rush for empire’. This desperate push for brand-new colonies was sustained by rising nationalism, increasing demand for land and dwindling avenues at home. Two family member newcomers come empire-building to be the freshly unified nations of Germany and also Italy.

The male who helped construct the German state in the 1870s, rose oil von Bismarck, showed small interest in gathering colonies – however Bismarck’s see was not shared by various other Germans. Organisations choose the early american League (formed 1882 in Berlin) whipped up assistance for German imperial expansion.

The Kaiser and also his advisors formulated your own royal designs, mostly concentrated on Africa. In 1884, Germany acquired Togoland, the Cameroons and also South-West Africa (now Namibia). Six years later, a sizeable swathe of east Africa fell under German control and was change the name Tanganyika (now Tanzania).

This african colonisation to be well received in Germany but it caused troubles in Britain and France. Numerous in London dreamy of a British-owned railway running the size of Africa (“from Cairo to the Cape”). German manage of east Africa was an obstacle to this vision.

Two Moroccan crises

The scramble for realm in Africa likewise sparked numerous diplomatic incidents. Two far-ranging crises stemmed from occasions in Morocco in north-west Africa. Though no a French colony, Morocco’s location inserted it in ~ France’s ball of influence. Paris sought to establish a protectorate in Morocco, the German Kaiser intervened.

In 1905, Wilhelm II took trip to the Moroccan city the Tangier, wherein he delivered a speech sustaining the idea of Moroccan independence. This antagonised the French government and precipitated a collection of upset diplomatic responses and also feverish press reports.

A 2nd crisis erupted in 1911. As the French to be attempting come suppress a rebellion in Morocco, the Germans landed an armed vessel, the Panther, in ~ the Moroccan port of Agadir – a landing made without permission, prior warning or any type of obvious purpose. This event triggered an also stronger reaction and also brought France and also Germany come the brink the war.

These plot of German provocation were not designed to encroach into Morocco or increase its empire, but to journey a wedge between France and also Britain. It had the the contrary effect, strengthening the Anglo-French alliance and also intensifying criticism that German Weltpolitik and ‘gunboat diplomacy’ in both France and Britain.

The decaying ottoman Empire

Imperial instability was one more contributor to european tensions. An important problems in the footrest Empire developed uncertainty in east Europe and also threatened to upset the balance that power.

Described through satirists as the ‘Sick male of Europe’, through the second fifty percent of the 1800s, the ottoman sultanate to be in quick political, military and also economic decline. The Ottomans were defeated in numerous wars consisting of the Crimean battle (1853-56), Russo-Turkish war (1877-78) and an initial Balkans war (1912-13). These defeats, together with rising nationalism and also revolutions in Ottoman-controlled regions, result in gradual but far-ranging losses of territory.

With the Ottoman realm shrinking and also at threat of collapse, europe’s other royal powers clamoured to secure are or influence in the region. Austria-Hungary hoped to increase into the Balkans; Russia moved to border Austrian development while securing access to the black Sea; Germany wanted to for sure the security and also completion the its Berlin-to-Baghdad railway.

Britain and also France also had colonial and trade interests in the region. The ‘Eastern question’ – the worry of what would take place in eastern Europe together the Ottomans i was withdrawn – was an essential talking suggest of the late 19th century. These advances drew the great Powers that Europe into the Balkan sphere, creating methods for rivalry and also increased tensions.


1. Imperialism is a mechanism where a powerful nation-state seizes or controls territories exterior its own borders. This territories space claimed and also governed as colonies.

2. Several European nations maintained realms in the decades prior to World battle I. The British empire was by far the largest, spanning roughly one-quarter the the world at one point.

3. The pre-war period saw European powers scramble to get the new colonial possessions. Much of this emerged in Africa, wherein Britain, France and Germany all vied for land and also control.

4. This ‘scramble for empire’ fuelled rivalry and also led to number of diplomatic incidents, together as 2 Moroccan situations that were greatly precipitated through the German Kaiser.

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5. The decrease of one more imperial power, the ottoman Empire, attractive the fist of europe powers, that sought territory, influence or accessibility in the Balkans and also Eastern Europe.