Imperialism vs. Colonialism: What's the Difference?

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Key Difference

Colonialism and Imperialism are the two political or social moves that refer to the gaining of the political and economic power by dominating the weaker countries. Such moves are made by the stronger countries to ensure more power and strength for themselves. Imperialism is regarded as the idea or the policy, whereas the colonialism is seen as the execution of that idea. The imperialism is about expanding the power by exhibiting the sovereignty of the neighboring states, region or weaker countries. This gain of power can be done through the military force or the diplomacy. The colonialism is more of the action as it is the practice of control over the occupied territory. It can be done by making colonies in the occupied territory, and later exploiting them economically by controlling the natural resources and markets.

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Comparison Chart

ImperialismColonialism
DefinitionA policy of extending a country’s power and influence through diplomacy or military force.The policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically.
OriginLatin word ‘imperium’ which means ‘command’ or ‘supreme power.’Latin word ‘colonus’ which means ‘farmers.’
ExampleThe US in Afghanistan.Britain’s entering Indian sub-continent for the sake of trade.

What is Imperialism?

Imperialism is the policy of expanding and empire or the strength of the country by exhibiting the sovereignty of the neighboring country, region or any of the weaker countries. This gain of power can be made both by using military forces and through the colonization. The country or the region going for the expansion or gaining dominance to other areas has a stable economy and well-structured political system. The invader country or the ruling country over the country doesn’t need to form any colony or any significant settlement to get the gain of the particular territory. Most of the time, the countries governing the power of the countries have the sole purpose of the exercise of power and giving the strong message their strength to the world, and it is not for the economic gains. Even they don’t have any plan to settle down on the conquered land in future. The main features of this policy are to gain power and make influence over other countries of the world. As the control done can be through the direct acquisitions or the indirect control, it may have control over both the political and economic life of the settlers. In modern times, the idea of imperialism directly refers to negating the foreign policy and sovereignty of the territory or the country. The best example of imperialism in modern times is America’s strong foothold in Afghanistan, to practice power and eradicate terrorism. At once they also had the control of the economy of Afghanistan, but they remain more interested in exhibiting their political power and military strength. The word ‘imperialism’ is of Latin origin; it came from the word ‘imperium’ which means ‘command’ or ‘supreme power.’

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What is Colonialism?

The colonialism is the action time, which is subjected to the imperialism. It is the practice of gaining full or the partial control of the conquered country or the region. The purposes behind this acquisition can be both benefiting the capture’s economy and political powers as well. The control in this form is gained by the foreigners settling alongside the settlers and forming a colony. The conqueror injects the settlers with their culture, practices, and profession which remain for the longer time at that specific territory even when the colonization comes to an end. The colonialism directly affects the social structure and economy of the country. People of the conqueror’s country even reside in the conquered country in huge number to gain more economic and social benefits. The Europe is seen as the introducer of the colonialism concept as they form colonies in various parts of the world by entering theirs just for the sake of trade. One of the most prominent examples of such colonialism is the British control of the Indian sub-continent with firstly just entering there for trade purposes. The term ‘colonialism’ is derived from the Latin word ‘colonus’ which means ‘farmers.’

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Imperialism vs. Colonialism

  • Imperialism is the extending of power by the country by negating the foreign policy of the country and controlling it through the military force or the diplomacy. On the other hand, the control of the country to gain political and economic benefits with settling colonies into it is known as the colonialism.
  • The conquers settle down in the conquered area in the colonialism, whereas in imperialism it doesn’t happen much often.
  • The imperialism has more focus on political power and military strength gains, while imperialism revolves around the social stature and the economic benefits.

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