Economic Imperialism (Question 2)

Surabi, Pooja, Eric, Teja, Varshini, Kaushik

Economic Imperialism

What caused economic imperialism?

  • Imperialism was in the economic interests of European societies and individuals

  • Overseas colonies were reliable sources of raw materials not available in Europe that came into demand because of industrialization

    • Rubber, tin, copper, and petroleum (in the 19th century petroleum was needed)

  • Colonies would consume manufactured products and provide a place for migrants in the age of a rapidly increasing European population

Places where economic imperialism occurred

Effects of Economic Imperialism

Economic imperialism led to the economy of the country (not the colony) being bolstered. This was because colonies were consuming more goods from the actual country. Through various examples in the past, one can observe how Britain, France, the Netherlands, and other states maintained close ties to their imperial colonies in order to boost their economic state as well. Unfortunately, imperialism often harmed the actual colonies' economies.
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Industrialization of Colonies?

Sadly, economic imperialism did not usually lead of industrialization of colonies themselves. Take Latin America: although it was a prominent source for raw materials for the United States, the states in Latin America did not industrialize. Most of the goods in their country that could be made into money were leaving the country, due to economic imperialism. Therefore, Latin American countries did not have enough money to industrialize.

The Monroe Doctrine

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In 1823, President James Monroe authorized the Monroe doctrine: a statement that warned European nations against interference in the Western hemisphere. This basically made every colony in the Western Hemisphere a protectorate of the United States. It served as justification for the United States to intervene in the matters of the Western Hemisphere. Because of this, the United States was basically able to exploit many colonies in the Western Hemisphere for materials and goods. Entrepreneurs brought natural resources and agricultural products of the Americas to the world markets.


For example, the United States wanted to build a canal across the isthmus of Panama to allow communication and transportation between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. This would enable a faster trade route to reach more countries. However, Colombia (which possessed Panama at the time) was unwilling to cede land for the purpose of the United States' economic advancement. Therefore, the United States supported a rebellion in Colombia, and then helped the victorious rebels break away from Colombia and establish the state of Panama. In exchange for their support, the United States won the right to build a canal across Panama and control the adjacent territory (the Panama Canal Zone). This boosted the economy of the United States, but only through imperialistic ventures in Panama and Central/South America.


The Monroe Doctrine is why European states did not have a high level of interference in Latin American states.