New Imperialism

Imperialism is empire building.  The central core of the empire may be a nation-state, or in ancient times, a city state or a tribe.


    European civilization experienced a period of unprecedented rapid expansion around the globe during the last third of the nineteenth century. European nation-states had become very powerful because of industrialization and because of the organizational efficiency of the nation-state.

    European global expansion had actually begun in the fifteenth century, but the process greatly accelerated in the nineteenth century in a process called New Imperialism.


    Latin America and the seaports of Asia and Africa were the first to be colonized by Europeans. Native Americans were liquidated or thoroughly subjugated to European rule. Most Latin American descendents (Latinos) of the Spanish conquerors  gained independence from Spain by the early 19th century, while many indigenous peoples remained subject.


    The African climate, disease and geography delayed most European colonization until the 19th century, although the descendents of Dutch settlers, known as Afrikaans or Boers, came to South Africa as early as the 16th century.   Slavery took a heavy toll on African development ever since the 16th century. Millions of young people of working age were taken away. Great conflict ensued.


    Asia's population was too great, its civilization too firmly established for Europeans to rule it directly. The Europeans did establish control over seaports and trade. In places like India and Indonesia, Europeans ruled indirectly through their domination of the local aristocracy.


    England was the leading European colonial power and had already established much of its overseas empire by the beginning of the 19th century.

    France was second, with its holdings in Southeast Asia and in North Africa, both of these being established during the 19th century.

    Portugal, Spain and Holland kept some colonies because they had been the earliest colonial powers, and still had some of them in the 19th century.

    Germany and Italy were late arrivals on the colonial scene because they had only unified themselves in the 1860's.


    The British forced China to open itself to the Opium trade in the 1840's. China also experienced social upheaval (The Tai Ping rebellion), and was unable to prevent foreign domination of its trade. By the end of the 19th century, England, Germany, Russia, Japan, and the United States had all compelled China to trade with them. Russia occupied Manchuria and Port Arthur, Japan was in Korea, Germany was in the Shantung peninsula, and the British were in Hong Kong.


    The French, the British, the Germans and the Italians competed with each other in the last third of the 19th century to lay claim to Africa. The Belgian king Leopold was also extensively involved. The only remaining areas of Africa not colonized by the end of the century were Ethiopia in the horn of Africa and Liberia on the Atlantic coast.

     Europeans attepmted to justify this colonisation by developing theories that said that they were superior to non-European peoples. There were a number of racist ideas widely believed by Europeans:


 Whites were superior to non-whites. 
One variation was Rudyard Kipling's idea of the White Man's Burden. The white man had the burden and responsibility of bringing the blessings of their superior civilization to the savages of the non-European world.
Another was a variation of Social Darwinism in which white Europeans were considered more fit in the struggle for survival. 


Another variation was that Christianity was the only true religion and heathens needed converting in order to save their souls.

Scramble for africa

The archetypal New Imperialist campaign was the late 19thC invasion of Africa by European powers - a campaign which in its brutality of conquest and rule has left a racist legacy that has continued to determine much of what still happens today within the continent and elsewhere, here and now in the 21st century...

Watch the short film below left.  What do you believe it is saying about relations between Europe ands Africa; and how people from countries in Africans see both themselves and Africa?  Who do you think made this film?

Now read the article below right - how accurate were you?

Finally watch the 10 minute documentary clip underneath the video + article, and answer the questions on the attached document.  How do events from over 100 years ago still determine events in the 21st century...?


So how did Europeans conquer a continent previously untouched because of the challenges it presented outsiders?  The 19th century saw Europe rapidly industrialise and progress in mamny ways far faster than the rest of the world.  This allowed them to develop industrial, military and scientific solutions to these age old challenges...

Access the scanned text below and use it to complete the summary sheet attached...


British in E & S Africa

BBC Empire series - Maxim Force (Niall Ferguson)

The European powers that ended up dividing Africa ranged from the traditional Great Powers of France and Great Britain to smaller, more marginalised nations such as Portugal and Belgium.  Alongside these established European nation-states were the newly unified German and Italian nations who were eager to establish themselves on the world stage.  They all had individual ways of governing their new territories - the British used indirect rule; the Continental powers were more direct; and there were even heads of state such as Belgium's Leopold II who established personal claims and treated their new colonies as private fiefdoms.  Our first case study is the British in East and South Africa - watch the video on the left and answer the questions....

Belgian Congo; German South-West Africa

Left :

Belgian Congo






UKs Biggest Fibs - India + Empire of 19C

Marr's History of the World - ep 7 - Age of Industry - New Imperialism Prezi introduction








Open publication - Free publishing - More africa



BBC series - "History of Racism" - 3 episodes :-

(1) 16th/17th Cs - basis

(2) 19th C - justification

(3) 20th C - impact




Scramble for Africa

- nw imp lecture

- division of africa and effects




Systems of rule

  - Maxim Force - UK and Africa - BBC Empire series with Niall Ferguson - episode 1/5 - 

- BBC documentary on UK in S Africa & the Boer War

- BBC documentary on Germany in Namibia at start of 20th century

- modern history of congo

- brutality of the congo ( 10 min bbc4 snippet)

"White king, red rubber black death" .... BBC Storyville doc about NI in the Congo

This World BBC documentary Rwanda : Untold Story

Guardian article on US involvement in Rwanda


Division of Asia

- new imp in asia lecture

- BBC Empire - Making a Fortune episode - India; China featured 

- Pacific Century - Two Coasts of China (China & UK)

 - Powerpoint intro to Opium wars between UK and China in 19th Century 

- Docudrama on Opium Wars (1997)

 - Pacific Century - Meiji Restoration (Japan & USA) - video/audio has a little time delay.... 

- Road to War - Japan - documentary on Japanese and West relations deteriorating