What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Imperialism?

Imperialism often provides economic benefits and enhances literacy rates, but it also often creates social and economic inequalities and may artificially divide previously peacefully co-existing segments of society. Imperialism is often driven by economic and political motives: nations seeking to grow and expand their economies overtake vulnerable areas where resources and labor are abundant and cheap. With this conquest comes the introduction of new systems of governance, new ideas, and often better education. Traditional customs and practices, however, are often lost and erased in light of the imposition of imperialist forms of government.

Nations that initiate imperialism often advance into new territories to gain access to higher volumes of raw materials and resources needed to grow their economies. This in turn sparks growth in local economies, as native citizens find new sources of employment. In addition to providing new jobs and higher incomes, imperialism often introduces more extensive transportation networks, such as roads, bridges, railroads and highways. It also brings greater access to education and may help improve literacy rates among members of the local population. On the flip side, however, imperialism may incite violence and raise tensions among previously peacefully coexisting groups: the division of the Tutsi and Hutu tribes in Rwanda under British rule is a good example. Furthermore, imperialism may lead to power concentrations and wealth among elite political and social groups.