Causes of Imperialism: Surplus Production, Ardent Nationalism and Others

Let us learn about the causes of Imperialism.


Surplus Production


After the Industrial Revolution in Europe, the new industries in England, France, Spain, and Portugal produced huge amounts of goods. Similarly, after the 1870s in Germany and Italy, the surplus amount of goods were produced. These goods could not be sold locally.


Therefore, the capitalists exerted influence on their governments to capture colonies so that surplus goods could be sold profitably in Asia and Africa. The need for overseas markets proved to be the basis of imperialism.


Need for Raw Materials

The growing demand for huge amounts of raw materials to feed the new industries in Europe led to imperialism. But why did the industrialized countries capture and establish new colonies?


Raw materials such as minerals and cotton were available in abundance in the countries of Asia and Africa at cheap rates. This encouraged the leading industrialized countries to capture and establish new colonies. Keep reading to learn a few more causes of imperialism.


Development of Modern Means of Transportation and Communication

The invention of steamships, railways, telephone, telegraph, and posts enabled man to conquer space and time. Distant lands could easily be conquered and served as sources of raw materials and dumping grounds for finished goods. Modern means of transport and communication enabled and facilitated the acquisition of colonies.


Pressure of Population


The population of Europe increased rapidly in the nineteenth century. The European countries had small territories. The extra and surplus population had to be provided basic facilities and new regions to settle down. This led to the establishment of colonies.


Rise of Industrial Capitalism


The merchants and traders looked for expansion of the business. The surplus capital of industrialists needed to be safely invested. Owners of shipping companies and bankers always looked for new and better opportunities to earn more and more.


Goaded by the spirit of chauvinistic nationalism the countries of Europe were eager to acquire colonies. But what do you think Chauvinism is?


Ardent Nationalism


Chauvinism is irrational behaviour and at times, it can be an immensely powerful instrument for the ruling elite to mobilize the masses. Colonies added to the power and prestige of imperialist countries.


There were rivalries to acquire more colonies. Colonies were also needed as military and naval bases. False national pride and patriotism were related to the acquisition of colonies.


Contribution of Christian Missionaries

The zeal to spread Christianity in distant lands of Asia and Africa played a crucial role in the spread of imperialism. Christian missionaries were active in colonies and applied means to spread Christianity.


Civilization Mission of Europeans


Europeans considered it their divine task to spread the �modernized� European culture in backward areas of Asia and Africa. It was considered a �white man�s burden� to teach �Civilised� customs and manners to the coloured people. Thus, false racial pride added to the raging fire of imperialism.


Geographical Explorations and Discoveries


Geographical exploration in Europe preceded and succeeded the Renaissance and reached its climax by the end of the 19th century. New lands in Asia, Africa and America were discovered. This enabled and facilitated the phenomena of imperialism.


Read More:
What is Imperialism: Introduction, Examples and MCQs - Class 8

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