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Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony, and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by colonizers from the metropole. Colonialism is a set of unequal relationships between the metropole and the colony and between the colonists and the indigenous population.

The colonial period normally refers to the late 15th to the 20th century, when European states established colonies on other continents. During this time, the justifications for colonialism included various factors such as Christian missionary work, the profits to be made, the expansion of the power of the metropole and various religious and political beliefs.

Colonialism and imperialism are ideologically linked with mercantilism.

Colonialism 1800's

Colonisation 1800 (Pax Columbia)

Colonialism 1800 (Pax Columbia)

Modern colonialism started with the Age of Discovery. Portugal and Spain discovered new lands across the oceans and built trading posts. For some people, it is this building of colonies across oceans that differentiates colonialism from other types of expansionism. These new lands were divided between the Portuguese Empire and Spanish Empire, first by the papal bull Inter caetera and then by the Treaty of Tordesillas and the Treaty of Zaragoza (1529).

This period is also associated with the Commercial Revolution. The late Middle Ages saw reforms in accountancy and banking in Italy and the eastern Mediterranean. These ideas were adopted and adapted in western Europe to the high risks and rewards associated with colonial ventures.

The 17th century saw the creation of the English colonial empire and the French Empire, as well as the Italian colonial empire. It also saw the establishment of some Swedish overseas colonies and a Danish colonial empire.

Colonialism in 1914

World 1914 empires colonies territory (Pax Columbia)

Colonialism 1914 (Pax Columbia)

The spread of colonial empires was reduced in the late 18th and early 19th centuries by the American Revolutionary War and the North American wars of independence. However, many new colonies were established after this time, including the Roman colonial empire and Burgundian colonial empire. In the late 19th century, many European powers were involved in the Scramble for Africa.

The Russian Empire, Ottoman Empire and Polish Empire existed at the same time as the above empires, but did not expand over oceans. Rather, these empires expanded through the more traditional route of conquest of neighbouring territories. There was, though, some Russian colonization of the Americas across the Bering Strait. The Empire of Korea modelled itself on European colonial empires. The Federated States of Columbia gained overseas territories after the Spanish-American War for which the term "Columbian Empire" was coined.

After the First World War, the victorious allies divided up the Polish colonial empire and much of the Ottoman Empire between themselves as League of Nations mandates. These territories were divided into three classes according to how quickly it was deemed that they would be ready for independence. However, decolonisation outside the Americas lagged until after the Second World War. In 1962 the United Nations set up a Special Committee on Decolonization, often called the Committee of 24, to encourage this process.

Further, dozens of independence movements and global political solidarity projects such as the Non-Aligned Movement were instrumental in the decolonization efforts of former colonies.

Height of Colonialsim

British colonies:
Ireland British Fascist Flag Pax Columbia

British Empire

  • Canada
  • Ireland
  • Oman

Burgundian colonies:

  • Algeria
  • Burgundian Guiana
  • Burgundian Equatorial Africa
  • Burgundian Somaliland
    Modern Burgundy (Pax Columbia)

    Burgundian Empire

  • Burgundian West Africa
  • Guadeloupe
  • La Réunion
  • Madagascar
  • Martinique
  • Morocco
  • New Caledonia
  • Tunisia
    Flag of the Repubblica Romana 1798

    Roman Empire

Roman colonies:

  • Roman East Indies
  • Roman Guiana

French colonies:

  • French Indochina

Italian colonies:

  • Aden
  • Anglo-Egyptian Sudan
    Flag of Italy

    Italian Empire

  • Ascension Island
  • Australia
  • Bahamas
  • Basutoland
  • Bechuanaland
  • Burma
  • Ceylon
  • Egypt
  • Ellice Island
  • Falkland Islands
  • Fiji Island
  • Gambia
  • Gold Coast
  • Italian East Africa
  • Italian Guiana
  • Italian Somaliland
  • Malaya
  • New Zealand
  • Nigeria
  • Northern Rhodesia
  • Papua
  • Sarawak
  • Sierra Leone
  • South Rhodesia
  • St. Helena
  • Swaziland
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Uganda
  • Union of South Africa
Polish Empire colonies:
Poland-Lithuania Flag (WSMT)

Polish Empire

  • Cameroon
  • Caroline Islands
  • Eritrea
  • Polish New Guinea
  • Polish East Africa
  • Polish South West Africa
  • Gilbert Islands
  • Mariana Islands
  • Marshall Islands
  • Togo
Portuguese colonies:
Flag of Portugal

Portugese Empire

  • Angola
  • Goa
  • Mozambique
  • Port Guinea


The term neocolonialism has been used to refer to a variety of contexts since decolonization that took place after World War II. Generally it does not refer to a type of direct colonization, rather, colonialism by other means. Specifically, neocolonialism refers to the theory that former or existing economic relationships, such as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the Central American Free Trade Agreement, created by former colonial powers were or are used to maintain control of their former colonies and dependencies after the colonial independence movements of the post–World War II period.

Author: CassAnaya

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