Motives for Imperialism


Imperialism is the situation whereby a country decides to extend its power and influence beyond their borders (Hobson, 2017). This they achieve through different forms which include colonization, military workforce among other different ways. Many of the European countries have been noted with the issue of imperialism and the urge to extend their powers beyond their region. These countries include Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the United States, and Japan. Each country has different motives that drove them into venturing into imperialism and stretching its powers to other territories (Kipling, 1903).

Motives for imperialism

Different motives lead to imperialism, and one of them is that of supremacy and the urge to gain a ruling over the lesser countries. In the 19th century, most of the European countries were competing with each other on who was more supreme than the other. This they competed through acquiring and colonizing other countries and making them part of their ruling and jurisdiction (Beveridge, 1898). Another motive that contributed to the need for imperialism was for the expansion of trade and economic activities. Most of these countries were still developing and identified that having to expand their trading activities to other countries would make them economically strong.

Another motive that made countries venture into imperialism was that of pride. A country like Germany was only interested in feeling supreme while being in command of other countries which had a lesser status than them. This led to them finding territories to exercise their imperialism and satisfy their pride in dominating over other countries (Touré, 1962). Another motive for imperialism was that of the battle for natural resources. European countries did not have natural resources but in other countries like those in Africa natural resources were found in plenty. To take over those natural resources they had to become imperial over the said countries and seize them for their benefit. Many of the colonized countries did not even have a clue of the value of some resources they had until the imperialists conquered them. Examples of the different natural resources included gold, silver, diamond, fuel, coal among others. Additionally, the imperialists used the people from the seized countries to work in the mines where these natural resources were found (Mill, 1973).

Missionary and the religious reason was another motive that led to the European countries to become imperialists. Most of the missionaries were Christians and wanted to expand the word of God to as many places as possible. Due to this they went to different countries and spread the gospel. However, they received some resistance, and the only thing they had to do was to take control of the different countries first before teaching them about Christianity. Due to this, they became imperialists over different territories which they intended to conquer through the word. After they became dominant, they then took their course of spreading the gospel to them (Moore, 1926).


Imperialism can be termed as a positive or negative act depending on the side individuals may decide to base their perspectives on. Imperialism helped open up the world especially to the third world countries which were very behind in matters of development. Today many of the countries have developed and have become independent on their own in the process sustaining their ever-growing populations. On the other hand, many people lost their lives especially in those territories that did not welcome the imperialist countries and decided to resist them. The imperial countries had superior weapons and tactics while the lesser territories did not have them. Lastly, each imperial country had its different motive that gave them the urge to extend their powers beyond their borders.




Beveridge, A. (1898). The march of the flag. Hentet fra () http://www. Fordham. Edu/Halsall/mod/1898beveridge. html.

Hobson, J. A. (2017). Imperialism: A study. Aakar Books.

Kipling, R. (1903). The Writings in Prose and Verse of Rudyard Kipling (Vol. 15). Charles            Scribner’s sons.

Mill, J. S. (1973). Principles of political economy. Рипол Классик.

Moore P.T. (1926), imperialism and world politics (MacMillan 654)

Touré, S. (1962). Africa’s Future and the World. Foreign Aff.41, 141.