A satirical depiction of Spanish imperialism in main and south America

Imperialism is a mechanism where one powerful nation occupies, controls and also exploits smaller nations. Several European countries were royal powers front to people War I. Royal rivalry and competition for new territories and possessions fuelled tension between significant European nations and became a aspect in the outbreak that war.

What is imperialism?

As pointed out above, imperialism is a system where a large, powerful nation dominates and exploits smaller nations, which are well-known as colonies. Together, the royal power and her colonies are recognized as an empire.

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In most cases, the imperial nation is euphemistically referred to as the ‘mother country’. The establishes control over that is colonies versus their will certainly – because that example, with infiltration and annexation, politics pressure, battle or military conquest. Once regulate is established, this are is asserted as a colony.

Colonies room governed by one of two people the imperial nation, a puppet federal government or local collaborators. A military presence is regularly stationed in the colony, to preserve order, suppress dissent and also uprisings and deter imperial rivals.

Imperialism deserve to have armed forces or geopolitical advantages but the main attract is economic. Nests exist chiefly come enrich the royal power. This might involve the it is provided of precious steels or other resources, such together timber, rubber, rice or other foodstuffs. Swarms can likewise be invaluable sources of cheap labour, farming land and also trading ports.

The british Empire

A representation of brothers imperialism in Africa, ‘from Cairo come the Cape’

Prior to world War ns the world’s largest, richest and also most leading imperial strength was great Britain.

The British empire famously lived in one-quarter of the globe (“the sun never sets top top Britain” was a well known slogan the the mid-19th century). British colonial possessions in the late 1800s included Canada, India, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Burma, Australia, brand-new Zealand, Hong Kong, numerous Pacific and also Caribbean Islands, southern Africa, Rhodesia, Egypt and also other parts of Africa.

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

British imperialism was focused on maintaining and also expanding trade, the importation of life materials and the sale of made goods. Britain’s royal power was reinforced by her an effective navy, the world largest, and also a fleet that mercantile (commercial) vessels.

Other European royal powers

France to be another far-ranging imperial power. French imperial holdings had Indochina (Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia), part Pacific islands and also several nests in west and also north-west Africa.

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

Empires closer to continental Europe included Russia, Austria-Hungary and also the ottoman sultanate. Russia subjugated Finland, Poland and also several central Asian areas as an imperial power. Russia’s devastating war versus Japan in 1904-5 was an attempt to prolong her imperial reach into Korea and northern China.

Despite blame to of european imperialism in America, the unified States likewise engaged in some realm building, particularly towards the end of the 1800s. Here is a list of the more far-ranging imperial powers of the beforehand 1900s:

Global realms in 1914

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

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

France maintained nests in contemporary Vietnam, Laos and also Cambodia, areas of West Africa and India, small possessions in southern America, and also islands in the Pacific and Caribbean.

Germany had seized control of modern Tanzania, Namibia and also Cameroon in Africa, German brand-new Guinea, part Pacific archipelago and vital concession in Shandong (China).

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

Spain as soon as possessed a big empire that included Cuba, the Philippines and big areas of southern America – but by 1914 the Spanish were left with just tiny early american territories in the Americas and north-west Africa.

The unified States to be a family member newcomer come imperialism but by 1914 had actually gained control of the Philippines, Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico and several islands in the Pacific. Despite later took in into the unified States, both Alaska and the Hawaiian Islands could be considered early american acquisitions.

The ottoman Empire was as soon as the largest empire in the world, soaking up Eastern Europe, the middle East and also much of northern Africa. Ottoman territory had shrunk significantly yet by 1914 the sultanate retained the heart of that old empire: modern-day Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Armenia and also Macedonia.

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

Belgium was among the smallest nations in Europe but still possessed a significant African nest (Belgian Congo) as well as a tiny concession in China.

Holland had actually several tiny colonial possessions in southern 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 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 developed a far-reaching ‘rush for empire’. This desperate push for brand-new colonies was fuelled by increasing nationalism, increasing need for land and dwindling avenues at home. Two loved one newcomers come empire-building were the recently unified countries of Germany and Italy.

The guy who assisted construct the German state in the 1870s, rose oil von Bismarck, showed small interest in gathering nests – however Bismarck’s watch was not shared by various other Germans. Organisations choose the colonial League (formed 1882 in Berlin) whipped up assistance for German imperial expansion.

The Kaiser and his torture formulated their own royal designs, mostly focused on Africa. In 1884, Germany obtained Togoland, the Cameroons and also South-West Africa (now Namibia). 6 years later, a sizeable swathe of eastern Africa dropped under German control and was renamed Tanganyika (now Tanzania).

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

Two Moroccan crises

The scramble for empire in Africa additionally sparked numerous diplomatic incidents. Two significant crises stemmed from occasions in Morocco in north-west Africa. Though not a French colony, Morocco’s location placed it in ~ France’s sphere of influence. Paris sought to create a protectorate in Morocco, the German Kaiser intervened.

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

A second crisis erupted in 1911. Together the French to be attempting to suppress a rebellion in Morocco, the Germans landed an armed vessel, the Panther, in ~ the Moroccan port of Agadir – a landing made there is no permission, front warning or any kind of obvious purpose. This incident triggered an even stronger reaction and brought France and also Germany come the brink the war.

These action of German provocation were no designed come encroach right into Morocco or broaden its empire, but to drive a wedge between France and also Britain. It had the the contrary effect, increase the Anglo-French alliance and also intensifying criticism the German Weltpolitik and ‘gunboat diplomacy’ in both France and also Britain.

The decaying footrest Empire

Imperial instability was one more contributor to europe tensions. Critical problems in the ottoman Empire created uncertainty in east Europe and threatened to upset the balance that power.

Described through satirists as the ‘Sick male of Europe’, through the second half of the 1800s, the footrest sultanate was in rapid political, military and also economic decline. The Ottomans were beat in number of wars including the Crimean war (1853-56), Russo-Turkish war (1877-78) and an initial Balkans battle (1912-13). This defeats, in addition to rising nationalism and revolutions in Ottoman-controlled regions, result in progressive but far-ranging losses of territory.

With the Ottoman realm shrinking and at threat of collapse, europe’s other imperial powers clamoured to secure territory or influence in the region. Austria-Hungary hope to broaden into the Balkans; Russia moved to limit Austrian expansion while securing access to the black color Sea; Germany wanted to ensure the security and also completion the its Berlin-to-Baghdad railway.

Britain and France also had colonial and also trade understanding in the region. The ‘Eastern question’ – the concern of what would occur in east Europe as the Ottomans withdrew – was vital talking suggest of the late 19th century. These advancements drew the good Powers of Europe into the Balkan sphere, creating methods for rivalry and increased tensions.


1. Imperialism is a device where a an effective nation-state seizes or controls territories external its own borders. This territories room claimed and governed together colonies.

2. Number of European nations maintained empires in the decades prior to World battle I. The British empire was by far the largest, spanning approximately one-quarter that the globe at one point.

3. The pre-war duration saw European powers scramble to obtain the new colonial possessions. Much of this arisen in Africa, whereby Britain, France and Germany all vied because that land and control.

4. This ‘scramble because that empire’ fuelled rivalry and also led to number of diplomatic incidents, such as 2 Moroccan crises that were largely precipitated by the German Kaiser.

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5. The decline of another imperial power, the footrest Empire, attracted the fist of europe powers, that sought territory, affect or accessibility in the Balkans and also Eastern Europe.