Difference Between Colonialism and Imperialism

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Apr 8, 2022, 5:26

When historians say Colonialism and Imperialism, they mean different things. Though both mean one country's domination over the other, there is a subtle Difference Between Colonialism and Imperialism. Let's take a deeper look at the two terms to understand the difference.

What is Colonialism?

Colonialism is the practice of expanding control over a foreign region by setting up colonies or dependencies within the area. Colonialism often sees a large number of people moving permanently to these colonies. However, they still maintain allegiance to their mother country.

Colonialism is exercised for the economic exploitation of the host country. Colonizers also often propagate their culture, language, and religion to these colonies. The British Raj in India from 1858 till the country's independence in 1947 is an example of Colonialism.

Colonialism can be of various kinds:

  1. Settler Colonialism: Where one country settles over another, seeking to replace the native population of that region.
  2. Exploitation Colonialism: Where a powerful country seeks to exploit the natural resources and labour of weaker nations by force.
  3. Surrogate Colonialism: Where a ruling power encourages and supports a nation to overtake and control another nation.
  4. Internal Colonialism: Where a powerful group in society dominates the weaker group within that society.

What is Imperialism?

Imperialism is a nation's policy of extending power and influence over other countries through diplomacy or force. It is the ideology behind Colonialism. A country can rule over another country through soft power (political or economic power) or hard power (military force).

Colonialism is a form of Imperialism, but the latter is broader in scope. The imperial powers seek to expand their empire and spread their dominance far and wide.

The three major types of Imperialism besides Colonialism are:

  1. Protectorate: In this type of Imperialism, although a country has its government, a stronger foreign government makes the decision for them.
  2. Sphere of Influence: It occurs when a foreign government, through its power, claims certain rights and benefits, including trade and investment privileges.
  3. Economic Imperialism: Economic Imperialism is when private businesses control and influence a country's economy.
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Difference Between Colonialism and Imperialism

Basis of Difference

Colonialism

Imperialism

Meaning

Colonialism is the practice of dividing the region into colonies to assume physical control over those regions.

Imperialism refers to the political or economic suppression of one nation by another through soft or hard power.

Aim

Colonialism aims to exploit the resources of the conquered countries for the benefit of the conqueror.

Imperialism seeks to create an empire, expand into neighbouring regions, and exert its dominance far and wide.

Feature

In Colonialism, many people from one region move to another territory to build colonies. The colonies gradually alter the region's social, physical, and economic structure.

Such mass movement is not a feature of Imperialism.

Focus

Colonialism focuses on gaining economic access by exploitation.

Imperialism also focuses on developing those regions through economic and political control.

Example

Settlement and control of Europeans in India, Australia, North America, Algeria, Brazil, etc., is an example of Colonialism.

The United States looking to become a world power is an instance of Imperialism.

 

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FAQs on the Difference Between Colonialism and Imperialism

Q.1. Is there a Difference Between Colonialism and Imperialism in the definition?

Yes. The Difference Between Colonialism and Imperialism in the definition is that Imperialism refers to the political or economic suppression of one nation by another through soft or hard power; on the other hand, Colonialism is the practice of dividing the region into colonies to assume physical control over those regions.

Q.2. What is the Main Difference Between Colonialism and Imperialism?

The Main Difference Between Colonialism and Imperialism is that while Colonialism seeks to exploit the resources of weaker countries, Imperialism aims to create an empire and spread its dominance far and wide.

Q.3. What is the Difference Between Colonialism and Imperialism in nomenclature?

The Difference Between Colonialism and Imperialism in nomenclature is that Imperial is derived from the Latin word 'imperium,' which means to command; Colonialism, on the other hand, is derived from the word 'Colonia,' which means a 'land,' and 'Colonus,' which means to inhabit.

Q.4. Despite the Difference Between Colonialism and Imperialism, are they interrelated?

Yes, despite the Difference Between Colonialism and Imperialism, they are interrelated. Colonialism is a form of Imperialism. However, there are other forms of Imperialism as well, such as protectorate imperialism, the sphere of influence, and economic Imperialism.