Difference between New Imperialism and Old Imperialism

Difference between New Imperialism and Old Imperialism is explained here in detail.

Imperialism is a policy or ideology of extending the rule or authority of a country over other countries. Old Imperialism began from the 11th century and its end marked the beginning of New Imperialism from late 19th Century to early 20th century.

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Difference between New Imperialism and Old Imperialism

The major differences between New Imperialism and Old Imperialism are:

New Imperialism Old Imperialism
New Imperialism began from the 1870’s Old Imperialism started from 1096 and went on till the mid 19th century.
New Imperialism witnessed Industrial Revolution Old Imperialism witnessed Commercial Revolutions (Mercantile System)  
New Imperialism was driven by economic objectives.  Old Imperialism was driven with 3 objectives. These 3 objectives were 3G’s – God, Glory, Gold. Gold – With the discovery of America, Christopher Columbus was richly rewarded, Glory – the fame it brings to the explorer and his nation, God – Europeans believed they have to spread Christianity everywhere.
New Imperialism witnessed the major roles played by Britain, France, Germany, Italy, USA, Russia, Belgium. Nations that played a major role in Old Imperialism were Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, France, Britain. Spain and Portugal played a predominant role in the 1500’s, whereas in 1600’s major roles were played by France, Britain and Netherlands.
Under New Imperialism, Empires were established in Africa and Asia and there were political and social reforms in those colonies. Old Imperialism led to exploration of new trade routes, establishment of new settlements in new lands and ultimately led to establishment of Political rule in those lands.
Under New Imperialism, Nations ruled smaller colonial areas. Nations like Belgium and France made use of the policy of paternalism and assimilation, whereas Britain used an indirect rule system. Under New Imperialism there was rise in racial segregation. Under Old Imperialism, a single nation used to control large Geographical areas.The people of the land conquered by Spain were subjected to forced labor, whereas Britain had established a policy of limited self rule.
New Imperialism wanted precious metals, cotton, vegetable oils, dyes etc Old Imperialism sought different goods like spices and cash crops from Asia, land from North America etc.
Under New Imperialism, colonies served as an outlet for larger populations, for example people from the Netherlands were settled in huge numbers in South Africa. Old Imperialism wanted Ivory and Human Labor from Africa.
Under New Imperialism, colonies are both producers and markets for goods, for example the oil produced in Africa was taken to Europe for refining the Oil. After refining the Oil in Europe, it was sold back in African Market. Under Old Imperialism, colonies were producers of goods
New Imperialism used better technologies compared to Old Imperialism. Some of the most significant technological improvements were, use of railroads, steamboats for faster and easier transportation of men and materials; for faster and easier communication, telegraphs were used, machine guns were used for military purpose, vaccines were developed for treatment of diseases. Technologies used in Old Imperialism were Muskets, Naval Vessels, and Canons for military purposes. By the time railroads, steam engines, telegraphs were invented the Old Imperialism almost came to an end, marking the beginning of New Imperialism.
Under New Imperialism, resistance given by colonies to the rulers failed multiple times due to use of sophisticated weapons and various other technological developments by Colonial Rulers. Under Old Imperialism, stiff resistance was offered to the Colonial Rulers.
Reasons for the end of New Imperialism were Word Wars, Native Uprisings. Reasons for end of Old Imperialism were Industrial Development, Cost of maintaining colonies outweighed the benefits accruing from them, Nationalistic movements, Napoleonic Wars.

The above table comprehensively covers the differences between New Imperialism and Old Imperialism.

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Frequently Asked Questions on Difference Between New Imperialism and Old Imperialism


Q 1. How is New and Old Imperialism different?

Ans. New Imperialism began in the 1870s and witnessed the Industrial revolution. Old Imperialism started in 1096 and went on till the mid 19th century and witnessed Commercial Revolution.

Q 2. What is imperialism?

Ans. Imperialism is a policy or ideology of extending the rule or authority of a country over other countries.

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