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Motives That Contributed To Imperialism

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Imperialism is defined in the dictionary as being a " The policy of extending a nation's authority by territorial acquisition or by establishing economic and political hegemony over other nations" (p 681 American Heritage college Dictionary). Usually people associate imperialism as being the domination of a small country by a larger, more powerful country, usually to the advantage of the larger country. At the beginning of the nineteenth century most of the countries in Europe were involved in imperialism. Each country had it's own motives for wanting to gain an empire and some of the reason were Economic, Political, Religious and Exploitation.

Although all of the above are valid reasons, imperialism is more often attributed to economic motivation. The lack of raw materials to feed the industries meant the search for and control of areas from where raw materials could be obtained cheaply." For example, the special attraction of Africa and Asia was that they offered many of the raw materials needed by the multiplying factories of Europe: including cotton, silk, rubber, vegetable oils, and the rarer minerals. The products of the tropics were especially welcome to Europe but many of these raw materials were obtained without political control. Also, the primary economic motive of the Moors was to secure the gains from the Eastern trade (principally spices).

Political motives are also a reason for imperialism. Some countries picked certain territories because of their geographic location. Alternatively, it was contended that states were motivated to expand primarily by the desire for power, prestige, security, and diplomatic advantages over other states. For example, in the late 19th-century, French imperialism was intended to restore France's international prestige after its defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. Additionally, Russia tried to gain specific areas in the Balkans in the attempt to fulfill their goal of having a warm water port. It was also possible that in some cases the country's effort to gain new territory was also a method of attracting attention from internal political problems. The determination of a country to become imperialistic was more the activity of a small group of people, "which are mostly intellectuals, economists, or patriotic publicists and politicians anxious to ensure security and self-sufficiency, than the economic conditions of the country itself." And, as the examples of the British, French, Dutch, and Portuguese show, nations that had traditions of colonialism were more prompt to seek colonies than were nations, such as Germany and Italy that had no such traditions.

In so many ways, "the political motive was inevitable, as it was almost impossible to follow an economic agenda



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