What Are the Typical Reasons for Colonization?

Typical reasons for colonization are to steal natural resources, expand territories and culturally dominate a group of people who are distinguishable by race and/or religion. Although Hollywood films like “Out of Africa” (1985) romanticize colonization as a system for which all participants approve, the system of colonization is never amicable between the colonizers and their subjects.

Colonizers are the sole economic and cultural beneficiaries, while colonized people suffer usurpation of their aboriginal culture and a cycle of extreme poverty due to lack of quality resources. Cecil Rhodes of English decent was an infamous 19th century colonizer in Africa, where he renamed Zimbabwe, “Rhodesia” after himself. In 1888, Rhodes founded De Beers, a diamond cartel comprised of numerous mining operations that continue to extract diamonds from Africa. While De Beers grosses over $6 billion annually and the British economy benefits tremendously, Africans in De Beers’ targeted areas like South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia continue to live in poverty.

Modern colonization was at its peak during the 16th through the 19th centuries, a period known as the “Colonial Era.” Violence and rape are tactics colonizers historically used to control a group of people and their land. Under the threat of death and through continued oppression, colonizers force a group of people to submit to their demands. Miscegenation, or racial interbreeding between colonizers and their repressed victims, has established rigid caste systems among colonized people. For example, English colonizers interbred with aboriginal people in India, and in modern times, lighter-skinned Indians with European physical attributes generally receive higher wages and better education than darker-skinned Indians.

Whereas Colonial Era colonizers used more overt exploitation tactics, arguably 21st century colonizers infiltrate foreign lands through military force under the guise of establishing peace and democracy. However, these military operations last for years longer than their specified time frames. The regions in question are destabilized, and the self-professed peacemakers eventually gain control of some or all of the region’s natural resources, usually oil.