What Are the Positive and Negative Effects of Imperialism?


Quick Answer

The advantages of imperialism include improvements to or construction of local infrastructure, such as roads, highways, schools and hospitals. Imperialism can also lead to domination and oppression of weaker groups and the local economy.

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Full Answer

Imperialism is essentially the control or dominance that a country or group acquires over another either through diplomatic tactics or military force. Imperialism can bring some improvements in the quality of life to local populations, and it can provide economic stimulation. However, imperialism can also lead to a power imbalance that results in a smaller group forfeiting its identity, culture and customs to the dominant group.

European Imperialism
One example of imperialism in history is the control that European nations gained over the African countries during the Industrial Revolution. As the Industrial Revolution progressed, European nations competed with each other for economic dominance in Europe. They also required more substantial volumes of natural resources to fund their economic endeavors. As a result, European nations expanded their control over the African colonies, which contained the resources that the Europeans needed to keep building their economies and engaging in global trade. The positive effects of European imperialism included improvement of hospitals, schools and other public facilities in the African countries. Healthcare of the local populations also improved when the Europeans started introducing vaccines and modern medications to control the spread of certain diseases.

The European countries also made existing forms of transportation more efficient and reliable, and they brought new forms of transportation to Africa. The Europeans updated roads and highways. However, European Imperialism also had negative effects. Imperialist nations imposed heavy taxes on subordinate nations. They also dominated local governments, leaving the colonized countries with little or no say in national affairs and politics. As tensions rose between the dominant and subordinate groups, violence and unrest broke out.

American Imperialism
In modern history, the United States is considered an example of imperialist power. American culture, including clothing, music and food, has had a large impact on other countries. American business practices and technologies have also expanded into other parts of the world. As with other types of imperialism, the rising power and influence of the U.S. on a global scale has had positive and negative effects. Benefits of American power include the expansion of global modernization. The U.S. is responsible for pioneering certain accomplishments, such as space exploration and modern robotics. Following the nation's lead, those novelties have expanded to other parts of the world. These achievements have also created healthy competition among other countries as they strive to follow in the U.S.'s footprints.

With hundreds of military bases around the world, the U.S. has also helped strengthen global defense. With its military powers, the U.S. can support and protect people around the world during times of conflict. The rise of American imperialism has also created some disadvantages, however. One of the main disadvantages of American imperialism is that it has sparked political feuds and tensions with dominated countries as they resist the effects of American power. American imperialism has also created discrimination, as people in countries dominated by the U.S. have been forced to adapt to the American way of life. The U.S. is also responsible for exploiting people and economies around the world.

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