The Legacies of Colonialism & Imperialism
On Less Developed Countries
Colonialism is the policy of domination pursued by the European powers starting in the fifteenth century and extending to the mid twentieth century. During this period European countries began to exert their control over large parts of the world. The Spanish and Portuguese founded colonies in what was to become known as Latin America. Britain and France began to colonize North America and the Middle East as well as Africa, Asia and many of the Islands of the Caribbean.
The Countries of the less developed world (LDCs) have long established relations with their colonizers. The consequences of these relations of colonial domination can still be felt today and the legacy of foreign control can be blamed for many of the continuing crises that the former colonies now face.
The aim of this essay is to explore the legacy of colonialism and the impact that it had on less developed countries, economically, politically and socially. These legacies were in few cases positive and in many cases detrimental.
Colonialism was very exploitative and disruptive; its impacts were enormous and many of the consequences of Colonialism left Colonial Societies ill prepared for independence. The European powers did little to develop local economies in their colonies and instead they mainly built up enterprises that focused on commodities such as coffee, cocoa and other natural resources in a system they had designed to export goods rather than producing goods for local consumptions. The export oriented economy linked the colonies directly to the colonial power, rather than to its neighbors. This destroyed trade networks that had existed in many regions for centuries.
The empires extracted raw materials, minerals and agricultural products that were suitable for export to Europe as well as the exploitation of raw material and minerals for export. Profits from the exports of mineral and agricultural products were sent to Europe and gave The European powers access to immeasurable treasures with which to fund their own economic development. There was little investment back into the colonies and the revenues needed to govern the colonies were supplied by the colony. Economic development was encouraged but only in a form that would benefit the economies of their own countries.
The high demands for labor in the mining of minerals and the production of crops for export, necessitated a constant demand for cheap labor and thus colonial governments resorted to policies of forced labor or outright slavery in the colonies. These demands for labor also resulted in large scale movement of people from areas that were not involved in Colonial production, they were moved to new areas including many urban areas that still stand as large cities today and were involved in Colonial productions in Colonial times. This Wholesale movement of workers led to the dislocation of peoples that impacted societies and cultures. Long held practices had to change to accommodate these changes and in many cases family and cultural practices had to adapt, change or be completely abandoned to fit the new circumstances. Families were split when men recruited to work in mines and plantations had to leave their families behind, women and children had to cope with the absence of their husband and fathers and some had to take on new roles that were unknown to them.
Colonialism affected changes not only in the economic, cultural and religious makeup of the colonies but also in the physical boundaries of many states. Many pre colonial societies were composed of towns, small cities and rural areas dedicated to agriculture. During Colonialism urban areas were rapidly developed bringing with it changes in economic activities, occupations and in the very way in which the people lived; in many instances these changes often...
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