10 Differences Between Colonialism and Imperialism You didn’t Know

Filed in Articles by on April 21, 2021

Differences Between Colonialism and Imperialism: When we speak of colonialism and imperialism, we speak of concepts that enforce one’s superiority, domination, and influence upon a person or group of people.  Colonialism and imperialism are often used synonymously which shouldn’t be.

This article is aimed at analyzing the two terms, highlighting the similarities and differences in both systems. Colonialism is the act of obtaining partial or full authority over another nation and exploiting it monetarily. Imperialism is the philosophy that drives colonialism.

Colonialism and Imperialism

The simple way to distinguish these two is to think of colonialism as practice and imperialism as the idea of driving the practice. Colonialism is the implanting of settlements on a distant territory.

In colonialism, a foreign ruler (king, queen, warlord, government) captures someone else’s territory not to merge it and form one larger entity but to have the captured territory as a separate entity called a colony and be exploited for economic and commercial purposes.

Imperialism was first associated with ancient Rome (a fact that is borne out quite emphatically in the first pages of Heart of Darkness, where the presence of the Romans gives a sense of history). Imperialism has a specifically expansionist connotation.


Colonialism is the practice of acquiring partial or full control over another country and exploiting it economically. The system results in a set of unbalanced relationships between the colonizers and the colonized (natives of the colony) and between the colonial power and the colony.

Colonialism is termed as building and maintaining colonies in one territory by people from another territory. Colonialism can altogether alter the social structure, physical structure, and economics of a region. It is quite normal that in the long run, the traits of the conqueror are inherited by the conquered.

In Colonialism, one can see a great movement of people to the new territory and living as permanent settlers. Though they lead a life as permanent settlers, they still maintain allegiance to their mother country.


Imperialism is a policy of extending a country’s power and influence through military force or diplomacy. In other words, it refers to the practice by which a country increases its power by gaining control over other areas of the world.

The word ‘imperialism’ originated from a Latin expression ‘imperium’ meaning supreme power. There is no universally accepted definition of imperialism, and numerous researchers have developed various perspectives to clarify the idea of imperialism.

However, it is generally accepted that imperialism happens when a strong country assumes control over a more vulnerable country and rules its political, financial, and social life.

Notable Distinctions Between Colonialism and Imperialism

1. Colonialism is a term where a country conquers and rules over other regions. Imperialism means creating an empire, expanding into the neighboring regions, and expanding its dominance far.

2. Colonialism is the practice while imperialism is the idea driving the practice.

3. Imperialism is a policy of extending a country’s power and influence through military force or diplomacy.

4. In Colonialism, one can see a great movement of people to the new territory and living as permanent settlers.

5. As both colonialism and Imperialism implies political and financial control of alternate, researchers regularly think that it’s difficult to separate the two.

6. Colonialism is a form of Imperialism but Imperialism is not necessarily Colonialism.

7. Going to the historical background, state originates from the Latin word ‘colonies, which implies agriculturists. Imperialism additionally originates from the Latin word imperium, which intends to order.

8. Colonialism is a term used to depict the settlement of spots like India, Australia, North America, Algeria, New Zealand, and Brazil, which were altogether controlled by the Europeans.

9. Colonialism is where a nation vanquishes and administers over different districts.

10. Imperialism implies making a domain, venturing into the neighboring districts and growing its predominance far.

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CSN Team.

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