Difference between Imperialism and Colonialism

Imperialism vs. Colonialism

What is Difference between Imperialism and Colonialism? Imperialism and colonialism are terms that are often used in many ways and perhaps for this very reason, are often used interchangeably. They are concepts that can be somewhat difficult to define, however it is important to understand that they do not mean the same thing.

Difference between Imperialism and Colonialism

If you have doubts about it, you have nothing to worry about; because then we tell you the difference between imperialism and colonialism.


Imperialism is defined as the policy or tendency of a nation to extend its control over other states. It is exercised politically, socially and economically.

The word imperialism derives from the Latin imperium (term that has to do with the power and the order). Therefore, imperialism encompasses the military and political control that a powerful entity exercises over other subordinates and their territories. The imperialist nations extend their control, power, and rules. They control the political and economic life of other nations.

The concept of imperialism is much broader than that of colonialism. It can be exercised formally, informally, directly or indirectly. Informal imperialism can be achieved through various methods, for example; not allowing the weakest states to achieve or maintain their independence or by reducing their sovereignty.


Colonialism can be defined as a product of imperialism and is commonly associated with the formal control exercised by a nation over a weak state (colony), from which resources are exploited; that is to say, a nation takes possession of a territory or State and of the resources that it possesses. Colonialism refers to the action of governing a territory. Unlike imperialism, it is a question of extending control more and more.

When it is colonized, it is tried that the colony becomes dependent of who dominates it and the natives of this colony are submitted or displaced. Colonization is one of the ways in which imperialism operates.

The term colonialism derives from the Latin term colonia (farm) and this one of colonus (cultivator). Colonization refers to the act in which a group of people settle or create settlements in a certain place or territory and subject the natives of said place. This type of relationship can become a danger to the local population and its culture.

In colonialism, colonies are acquired and made dependent on the state that represents the center of power. The most important feature of colonization is exploitation and can be carried out with or without direct political control. It is often associated with an act of economic domination over the resources of the colony.

Colonialism falls into the categories of formal control or direct control. Finally, colonialism is adopted as one of the most effective ways of implementing imperialism and while the latter is often seen as an ideology; colonialism is generally seen as the way of putting the imperialist idea into practice.

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