UPSC Modern History: Imperialism – Short notes

Ready to take a test? Click Here


  • The main reasons of imperialism during ancient and medieval periods were ambition, need to expand territory and spread of religion.
  • But the reason for modern imperialism was economic, i.e. expansion of trade and earn profits, wealth.
  • The trade between Europe and Asia increased tremendously since the fourteenth century.
  • All trade routes were going through Ottoman empire. But Turks captured Constantinople, the capital of Ottoman empire, in 1453 and closed all trade routes between Europe and East Asia.
  • This lead to the geographical discoveries of sea-routes.

Geographical discoveries

  • The naval geographical discoveries were stimulated by two factors.
  • First, Prince Henry of Portugal and other European rulers motivated and helped navigators to undertake voyages.
  • Second, the scientific progress in navigation. New instruments were invented like mariners compass astrolabe, armillary sphere, new types of ships were built.
  • Columbus John Cabot and others discovered American continent.
  • Vasco the Gama discovered direct sea route to India.
  • Many new islands were discovered.


  • When one independent country establishes political and military control over other country then it is called imperialism.
  • P. T. Moon said that, imperialism means employment of engines of war and diplomacy to establish control over other nation.

Causes of imperialism

  • Most important cause of imperialism is  that the industrialized nations needed raw materials in bulk and the ready-made markets to sell the surplus industrial products.
  • Since 16th century, European nations had vast trade with Asia and Africa and every European nation tried to monopolize the trade to earn huge profits. Therefore, they earned/captured/implemented political rights  or domination on the weak states or colonies.
  • Europe made tremendous progress after renaissance and re-information. The development of new war technique, new weapons and disciplined army made them militarily powerful. The steam power , new process of producing better steel revolutionized transport.
  • On the contrary, Asiatic and African countries had rich natural mineral but poor in scientific and industrial progress. These national also lacked political unity among their states.
  • Apart from economic gain, some European nations followed policy of imperialism for national pride and fame while some other for the spread of Christianity.

Forms of imperialism

  • To achieve their goal, European nations followed different methods in different nations. The various forms of trade were monopoly, protectorate, sphere of influence, complete political and military control.

Ready to take a test? Click Here


1,164 total views, 1 views today

  • 4
About Varsha 12 Articles
A post graduate from IIT (ISM), Dhanbad, I am currently working as a teaching consultant. I am the person who believes in philosophy that the more you share the knowledge, the more you will learn and only quality education and knowledge can make someone a Complete Person -A good balanced human being.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.