They thus often invited the Europeans in to help them—and realized only too late that the Europeans
had no intention of leaving.
Having reviewed the means and the motives, we will now take a look at the specific cases of
imperialism by reviewing British, French, Italian, and German imperialism in the 19th century.
IV. Britain and India:
A Case Study
Britain was a tiny country that during the last few decades of the 19th century and the first
half of the twentieth century controlled over 1/4 of the Earth’s surface (the British empire
included, among other possessions, Canada, Australia, about 1/2 of Africa, Burma,
Malaysia, Belize, Singapore, Hong Kong, and large parts of the Middle East). The saying,
"the sun never set on the British Empire," was indeed true.
Britain already had a massive colonial empire at the conclusion of the wars of Napoleon (it
controlled most of India following commercial penetration in the 18th c, and had colonies
in Canada, and Australia).
Shortly after Napoleon's defeat in 1814/15, the demands of industrialization would spur
the British to expand their empire.
For example, Stamford Raffle established the trade center and colony of Singapore in 1819
to facilitate new trade opportunities in the Far East enhanced by the invention of the
steamship (which could travel westward through the Straits of Malacca (which Singapore
dominated) in a way that sailing vessels could not (sailing ships had to go through the
more southerly Sunda Straits in Dutch Indonesia because the prevailing winds did not
permit sailing vessels to travel to the west through the Straits of Malacca).
Most important to Britain even after 1815, however, was India—the so-called Jewel in the
Indeed (ironically), the desire to maintain control of India (and control of the sea lanes to
India) proved to be the principal factor motivating the British to acquire new territory
during the last 3/4 of the 19th century.
Economic Exploitation and Defense
Economic penetration of the Indian subcontinent inevitably led to Britain taking formal