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6.2 Expansion of Imperialism

8 min readjanuary 14, 2023

Eric Beckman

Eric Beckman

Riya Patel

Riya Patel


AP World History: Modern 🌍

577 resources
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State Expansion

Between 1750 and 1900, state power shifted in various parts of the world through a number of processes, including:
  • Colonialism: European powers such as Britain, France, and Spain established colonies in many parts of the world, including Africa, Asia, and the Americas. This process involved the displacement of indigenous populations, the imposition of European political and economic systems, and the extraction of resources for the benefit of the colonizing power.
  • Imperialism: European powers also engaged in imperialism, which involved the domination and control of other countries through political, economic, and military means. This process led to the subjugation of local populations, the suppression of local cultures and traditions, and the exploitation of resources.
  • Industrialization: The rise of industrialization in Europe and North America led to the growth of capitalist economies and the expansion of trade and commerce. This process led to the development of new forms of economic and political power, as well as the emergence of new social classes and the decline of traditional forms of power.
  • Nationalism: The rise of nationalism movements in various parts of the world led to the emergence of new nation-states and the decline of empires. This process led to the formation of new political entities and the reshaping of existing ones.
  • War: Wars between European powers and other states led to the shifting of state power through the conquest and annexation of territories.
Overall, these processes had a profound effect on the distribution of state power around the world, leading to the emergence of new political entities, the decline of traditional forms of power, and the reshaping of existing ones.

African Imperialism

European powers such as Britain, France, and Belgium engaged in imperialism in Africa, which involved the colonization and domination of the continent. European powers established colonies, imposed their political and economic systems, and exploited the resources of Africa for their own benefit. This period saw the forced displacement of indigenous populations, the suppression of local cultures and traditions, and the exploitation of Africa's labor and resources. The Scramble for Africa, a period of intense competition among European powers to claim territories in Africa, was a major aspect of this imperialism.
British control of Egypt: In 1882, Britain invaded and occupied Egypt, which was then a part of the Ottoman Empire. The British were primarily interested in securing control of the Suez Canal, which was an important trade route connecting Europe and Asia. The British established a protectorate over Egypt, which lasted until the country gained independence in 1922.
  • Suez Canal: The Suez Canal, built by the French and the Egyptians in 1869, connected the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea, allowing ships to bypass the long and dangerous trip around the southern tip of Africa. The canal was of great strategic importance, especially for the British Empire, which relied heavily on sea trade. The British government purchased shares in the canal in 1875 and in 1882, they occupied Egypt.
  • British West Africa: During the 19th century, Britain established control over a number of territories in West Africa, including modern-day Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and The Gambia. The British established colonies and imposed their political and economic systems on these territories. They also engaged in the forced labor of indigenous peoples, and the extraction of resources, particularly palm oil and gold.
  • French in Africa: In the late 19th century, France also began to establish colonies in Africa. They controlled a large territory in West and Central Africa, including modern-day Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Gabon, and Chad. Like the British, the French imposed their political and economic systems on these territories, engaged in forced labor and extract resources. French rule in Africa was characterized by centralization, a strong military presence and forced assimilation of the indigenous peoples.
Overall, the British and French established control over large parts of Africa through imperialism, imposing their political and economic systems on the territories, and exploiting the resources and labor of the indigenous populations. The Suez Canal was of great strategic importance for both empires and was a point of contention and competition.

The Scramble for Africa

The Scramble for Africa was a period of intense competition among European powers to claim territories in Africa during the late 19th century. This competition was driven by economic, political, and strategic interests. The European powers sought to establish control over Africa's resources, particularly its vast territories, minerals, and labor. They also wanted to establish colonies and protectorates to expand their global influence and prestige.
The Berlin Conference of 1884-1885 was a key event in the Scramble for Africa. The conference was called by the German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck and attended by representatives from the major European powers, as well as the United States. The conference established the rules for the partition of Africa among the European powers, without regard for the wishes of the indigenous populations. The conference also established the principle of "effective occupation," which meant that European powers could claim control over a territory if they could demonstrate that they had "effective control" over it, regardless of whether the indigenous population had consented to the arrangement.
As a result of the Berlin Conference and the Scramble for Africa, European powers established control over the majority of Africa by 1900. They imposed their political and economic systems on the continent, suppressed local cultures and traditions, and exploited the resources and labor of the indigenous populations. The legacy of this period continues to shape the political and economic landscape of Africa today, as many of the borders established during the Scramble for Africa remain in place.

Imperialism in South Asia

Imperialism in South Asia during the period of 1750-1900 involved the colonization and domination of the region by European powers, primarily Britain. The British established control over South Asia through a combination of military conquest and economic domination.
In 1757, the British East India Company, a British mercantile company, defeated the local ruler at the Battle of Plassey, which marked the beginning of British control over India. Over the next century, the British expanded their control over the subcontinent, subjugating local rulers and imposing their political and economic systems.
The British established a system of indirect rule, where they controlled the local rulers through a combination of military force and economic incentives. They also imposed a system of land taxation, which led to the displacement of millions of farmers, and the transformation of the agrarian economy. The British also used the Indian army for their imperialistic wars and to protect their commercial interests.
British imperialism in South Asia also had a significant impact on the region's economy. The British established control over India's trade and commerce, using the country as a source of raw materials and a market for their manufactured goods. This led to the deindustrialization of India, which had a significant impact on the local economy, and the society.
Overall, British imperialism in South Asia led to the subjugation of local populations, the suppression of local cultures and traditions, and the exploitation of resources and labor. The legacy of this period continues to shape the political and economic landscape of the region today.

Imperialism in East Asia

Imperialism in East Asia during the period of 1750-1900 involved the colonization and domination of the region by European powers, primarily Britain, France, and the United States, as well as Japan.
  • British imperialism in East Asia: The British established control over parts of India, including present-day Bangladesh and Pakistan, which were known as British India. They also established colonies in present-day Malaysia and Singapore. The British established control over the region's trade and commerce, using the area as a source of raw materials and a market for their manufactured goods. They also imposed their political and economic systems on the colonies, suppressed local cultures and traditions, and exploited resources and labor.
  • French imperialism in East Asia: The French established colonies in present-day Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, which were known as French Indochina. They also established control over parts of present-day China and Taiwan, which were known as French Concession. Like the British, the French imposed their political and economic systems on the colonies, suppressed local cultures and traditions, and exploited resources and labor.
  • American imperialism in East Asia: In 1898, the United States annexed the Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico, which were previously under Spanish control. The United States also established control over Hawaii in 1898 and established trading relations with China. The American imperialism in East Asia was primarily focused on economic gain and the American government established trade relations, and sought access to resources and markets.
  • Japanese imperialism in East Asia: Japan began to expand its influence in East Asia in the late 19th century and early 20th century, eventually establishing control over parts of China and Korea, as well as Taiwan and the Ryukyu Islands. Japan's imperialism in East Asia was characterized by military conquest, suppression of local cultures, and the exploitation of resources.
Overall, European powers and Japan established control over East Asia through imperialism, imposing their political and economic systems on the territories, and exploiting the resources and labor of the indigenous populations. The legacy of this period continues to shape the political and economic landscape of the region today.

US Imperialism in Latin America & Pacific Regions

United States imperialism in Latin America and the Pacific during the period of 1750-1900 involved the expansion of American influence and control over the region through a combination of military force, political pressure, and economic domination.
  • Latin America: In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the United States intervened in the internal affairs of several Latin American countries, including Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama, to protect American economic interests and to promote American political ideals. This led to the establishment of American-friendly governments in the region and the suppression of local cultures and traditions. The United States also acquired territories in the region, such as Puerto Rico and Guam, through war or treaty.
  • The Pacific: In 1898, the United States annexed Hawaii, which had been a sovereign kingdom until then. The United States also established control over Guam and Puerto Rico, which were previously under Spanish control. In 1898, the United States also defeated Spain in the Spanish-American War, which allowed the US to gain control of Cuba, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines.
In the Philippines, the United States launched a war of suppression of the independence movement, which lasted for several years. The US also established a colonial government in the Philippines and imposed their political and economic systems, suppressed local cultures and traditions, and exploited resources and labor.
Overall, the United States established control over Latin America and the Pacific through imperialism, imposing their political and economic systems on the territories, and exploiting the resources and labor of the indigenous populations. The legacy of this period continues to shape the political and economic landscape of the region today.
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