Reasons for the end of imperialism, decolonization and emergence of new Nation-states and its impact


Decolonization is the process by which colonies become independent of the colonizing country.

Some take a broader look:

It means that to some extent, a movement began following WWI and gained momentum after WWII, where people around the world said that people have the right to govern themselves. However, many of the colonizing countries that lost control of governments maintained a presence in decolonize territories, often in the form of military.

Some question whether colonialism has ended:

Colonization takes many forms: from the literal appropriation of lands to cultural globalization, from political manipulation and armed intervention to modern versions of economic enslavement


In Africa:

  • British Colonies- By 1963, all of Africa had achieved independence from Great Britain, except Rhodesia.
  • France also could not maintain control of their colonies; by 1960, all but Algeria had gained independence.
  • Algeria and Kenya both used guerilla warfare to reclaim their independence.
  • In many parts of Africa, including South Africa, the presence of European immigrants interfered with negotiations, resulted in violence, and impeded transition of power. The withdrawal of resources and lack of preparation for the indigenous people to regain control complicated matters further.

In Asia and Middle East:

  • India-1946, Ceylon and Burma- 1948
  • France refused to grant independence to colonies in Indochina but were defeated in 1954 by Ho Chi Minh and Vietnamese Guerrillas.
  • Communism in China under the Red Guards acted as a colonizing agent by seeking to eliminate traditional cultures and customs.
  • Following WWII, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan became independent
  • Israel was formed as a state by the United Nations in 1948

Factors that led to decolonization:

  • After World War II, European countries lacked the wealth and political support necessary to suppress far-away revolts.
  • They could not oppose the new superpowers the U.S. and the Soviet Union‘s stands against colonialism.
  • Strong independence movements in colonies

Between 1945 and 1960, three dozen new states in Asia and Africa achieved autonomy or outright independence from their European colonial rulers.

Cultural, Economic and political impacts of decolonialization:

  • The colonial rule drew arbitrary natural boundaries dividing ethnic and linguistic groups and natural features, and laying the foundation for the creation of numerous states lacking geographic, linguistic, ethnic, or political affinity.
  • USA and European world started democratization of these countries. The Soviet Union deployed similar effort to encourage new nations to join the communist bloc. Some adopted capitalism(malayasia,Indonesia) while others socialism(India,Egypt etc)
  • Independent foreign policy: Nonaligned movement startedin 1955 to focus on internal development.
  • Raise of Neocolonialism- the practice of using capitalism, globalization, and cultural forces to control new countries.
  • The dependency principle evolved- the claim that post-colonial states have no choice but to accept Western conditions for loans, because they desperately need the money to support their own domestic policies.
  • Unlike the colonial time, now they were free and started to revive their old culture. Religious and ethnic movements facilitated interaction of cultures.
  • Various films, music, fiction, autobiographies, and museum displays were developed to learn the lessons from the history of colonization and its impacts.
  • Population resettlements like relocation of Jews in Palestine and Sikhs and Muslims in border areas of India-Pakistan, creating permanent animosity between people.
  • Also few newly independent countries acquired stable governments almost immediately; others were ruled by dictators or military for decades, or endured long civil wars.
  • Democracies & civil wars: Thoough democratic forms of government were setup in colonies, only few like india,malayasia and egypt were able to keep their democratic character. In Africa most countries like angola,Nigeria,zaire etc suffered from civil wars based on ethnic lines and with a dictator governing the countries.

3 thoughts on “Reasons for the end of imperialism, decolonization and emergence of new Nation-states and its impact”

  1. Did you first write “Colonization takes many forms: from the literal appropriation of lands to cultural globalization, from political manipulation and armed intervention to modern versions of economic enslavement” or is it a quote from another source? Using this quote for a school project and curious. Many thanks

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