Economic Causes Of Imperialism

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During the late 19th century to the early 20th century, Western Europe soughed the aim of imperialism, which is known as New Imperialism. But what is Imperialism? Imperialism is when strong nations dominate the weaker ones by political, economic or cultural life. In Europe, the countries’ ambitions focused on Africa, although China and Australia were also partially occupied.

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The main causes for countries to seek expansion of their territories were military and political reasons, humanitarian and religious goals, social Darwinism, Western technology and especially economic motives. The nations that started undergoing an industrial revolution, such as Britain, led to the acceleration of European Imperialism. The industries required large quantities of raw materials and in order to sell the products, they had to expand and create new markets. All of this created an increase in the competition of trade around the world.

What Imperial governments and private companies wanted was a high-profit margin, they realized that such profits could be achieved through a greater abundance of raw materials at a cheaper price. Economic expansion demanded cheap labor, trade and natural resources, such as precious metals and land. After the arrival of the industrial revolution, dependent colonies often provided to European factories and markets a steady supply for raw materials in order to manufacture products, such as oil, rubber and manganese for steel. This required that industrial nations had to maintain firm control over the unexplored areas, forced to look somewhere else as their own nations didn’t have enough resources for their country. The special attraction of many countries was that they offered many raw materials needed, which were mainly Africa and Asia, who offered cotton, silk, vegetable oils and the rarer minerals. All these products of the tropics were very welcomed to Europe, although many of them were got by trading without political control.

Colonies not only provided cheap raw materials but also new markets where industrialized countries could sell the manufactured goods which were produced at home and could not be sold domestically on the continent.

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