During the period of colonialism, the economically developed centers of civilization extended their dominance to other territories, created colonies out of them. What are the effects of this?

Colonialism – what characterized it?

Colonialism is a historical phenomenon involving the armed control by developed countries of the economic periphery of the world. Its purpose was to enrich the metropolises by introducing various forms of exploitation of the occupied territories. European colonial powers multiplied their capital, thus further strengthening their positions. The largest colonial empire in human history was Great Britain, which had colonies on every continent. Among the most significant were the US, Canada, Australia and India. 

Post-colonial world

Dynamic economic and social development led to the collapse of the colonial system. Colonial powers refused to liberalize trade and give equal rights to discriminated peoples, which led to the crash of the existing system. The aftermath of colonialism should mostly be considered negative, although a few positive consequences of this unjust system can be found.

The most negative consequence of the colonial era for the modern world remains the security threat. With the metropolises abandoning their territorial conquests, the latter were left alone with their problems. Former colonies often do not know what to do with their gained independence. African states have suffered the most. Civil wars continue to this day in many of them. Dictatorial regimes have been established in Muslim countries, and armed conflicts break out regularly in the Middle East, where the British formerly ruled.

Today, almost all former colonies are facing serious economic problems. The exceptions are individual countries, such as the US, Australia and Canada, which reached a high level of development back in the colonial period. To this day, the process of creating independent states after the collapse of the colonial system continues.

Colonialism – negative consequences

The current economic development of the 64 former colonies depends on the strategy that the metropolis took at one time. Where climatic and epidemiological conditions were favorable, Europeans established settlements and created stable political institutions. This was the case in Australia and New Zealand, for example. In areas of high mortality, Europeans tried not to settle. These regions interested them only as a source of raw materials. A repressive system of governance was organized there, and political institutions were not developed. In addition, the export-oriented economy of natural resources became a breeding ground for the development of corrupt regimes. One of the most glaring examples is the former Belgian Congo.

Colonialism – positive consequences 

And how does the duration of colonization affect the current state of the economy of former colonies? This question is best illustrated by island states, since their isolation makes them free from at least wars with neighboring states like mainland countries. It turns out that, on average, every 100 years spent as a European colony gives them an additional 40% of GDP. The same is true of another important indicator of social and economic development, namely child mortality: the longer an island has been a colony, the lower the mortality rate there now. The conclusion is self-imposed: extended colonization over time has a positive impact on the current state of the island countries’ economies.

main photo: unsplash.com/redcharlie

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