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colonization

colonization, extension of political and economic control over an area by a state whose nationals have occupied the area and usually possess organizational or technological superiority over the native population. It may consist simply in a migration of nationals to the territory, or it may be the formal assumption of control over the territory by military or civil representatives of the dominant power (see colony).

Overpopulation, economic distress, social unrest, and religious persecution in the home country may be factors that cause colonization, but imperialism, more or less aggressive humanitarianism, and a desire for adventure or individual improvement are also causes. Colonization may be state policy, or it may be a private project sponsored by chartered corporations or by associations and individuals. Before colonization can be effected, the indigenous population must be subdued and assimilated or converted to the culture of the colonists; otherwise, a modus vivendi must be established by the imposition of a treaty or an alliance.

Early Colonization

As early as the 10th cent. BC, the Phoenicians founded trading posts throughout the Mediterranean area and later exercised political dominion over these commercial colonies. The Greeks, from a desire for wealth or as a result of the expulsion of a political faction or the defeated inhabitants of a city, established colonies in Asia Minor and Italy, spreading Hellenic culture and stimulating trade. Greek colonies were patterned after the parent state and were at first subject to its jurisdiction. Colonization was an integral part of Roman policy, providing land for the poor, supporting Roman garrisons, and again spreading Roman culture. In their colonization the Romans sought to assimilate the native culture into their own, and in some cases they bestowed Roman citizenship upon natives of the colony. Medieval colonization began with the Crusades and was mainly Italian. The Venetians and Genoese established commercial colonies along trade routes and exercised strict supervision over them.

The Portuguese and Spanish

The Portuguese and Spanish became great colonizing nations at the end of the Middle Ages. Portuguese colonization, which received impetus from the development of greatly improved methods of navigation, began with the establishment of trading ports in Africa and the East, while the Spanish concentrated most of their efforts in the Americas. Both the Spanish and the Portuguese exercised strict governmental control over their colonies and used them primarily as a basis for rich commerce with the parent government. They discouraged them from becoming economically self-sufficient.

The English, Dutch, and French

In the late 16th and early 17th cent., the English, Dutch, and French began to undertake colonization through the agency of chartered companies. The greatest of these private trading companies was the British East India Company, which played a vital role in the history of the British Empire.

The French generally adhered to mercantilist theory in establishing their colonies, using them mainly for the economic advantage of France. The English colonists in North America, however, were, in many respects, virtually independent of the parent country, the most serious restriction being the establishment of a trade monopoly by the home government through the Navigation Acts. Because their territory was suitable for settlement, rather than exploitation, the residence of the British colonists in America tended to be permanent. The increase in overseas trade and colonial consumption helped to stimulate the Industrial Revolution, which in turn, because of the increased technological superiority afforded Europe, especially Great Britain, and because of the greater desire for markets and raw materials, gave added impetus to colonization and made it easier to accomplish.

Although Great Britain lost most of its North American colonies as a result of the American Revolution, other acquisitions (most notably in India) soon made it the greatest colonial power in the world. The French, stripped of one colonial empire in the colonial wars of the 18th cent., established another in the 19th cent.

The Germans and Japanese

Germany emerged as an industrial empire in the late 19th cent., but found the colonies of other powers closed to German products and, therefore, embarked upon its own colonial adventures. Japan, also recently industrialized, followed the same path. These ambitions helped to bring on World Wars I and II. Germany was stripped of its colonies after the first conflict; Japan lost its colonies after the second.

Decline of Colonization

Modern colonization, frequently preceded by an era in which missionaries and traders were active, was largely exploitative, but it did not in the long run prove directly lucrative to the colonial power, because it involved a heavy drain on the treasury of the home government. After World War II, there was increasing agitation and violence in the European colonial empires as subject peoples demanded their independence. Most colonies were granted or won independence from the imperial powers; those belonging to Portugal were among the last major colonies to become independent. Today, only a few remnants of the great colonial empires survive, mainly as self-governing dependencies (e.g., Aruba, Bermuda, and French Guiana). Colonization in its classical form is rarely practiced today and is widely considered to be immoral.

See also mandates; trusteeship, territorial.

Bibliography

See D. K. Fieldhouse, The Colonial Empire (1965); C. Verlinden, The Beginnings of Modern Colonization (1970); J. H. Parry, Trade and Dominion (1971).

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Colonization

Colonization

Colonization occurs when a species enters and spreads into a new geographic area or habitat. This process involves both the initial entry, or invasion, into the new area by the species and its successful establishment there, which includes finding adequate resources for growth and reproduction. Less commonly, the term may be used when a parasite enters into and spreads inside a host or when a gene enters into and spreads within a new population.

The process of colonization is intensively studied along with theories of island biogeography because islands are discrete, measurable areas where colonization occurs. Island biogeography is the study of the dynamics that effect populations of isolated areas, and that encompasses the entire process of colonization. Island biogeography theories can be divided into three types. The first relates to habitat diversity and focuses on the suitability of the new habitat for the invading species. The second pertains to equilibrium, or the balance of colonization of the new habitat and its rate of extinction. The third concerns itself with the balance between colonization of the new habitat and speciation within it, and employs an evolutionary approach to examine it.

Increased habitat diversity is the most basic explanation to support the well-documented fact that as the area of land under study increases the number of species present increases. An organism that arrives to colonize a new area will need to find an appropriate habitat, or environment, in which to live. For example, a bird that uses large trees in which to nest will not be able to colonize a grassland. The proper habitat is of critical importance for the success of a colonizer, and even small differences in environmental factors such as soil type or humidity contribute to the success or failure of a new colonist.

A second theory of island biogeography is equilibrium theory. It explains the balance that is reached between colonization and extinction. The amount of colonization depends on the distance between the source of the colonizers and the new habitat. For example, the diversity of species on islands is greater when the islands are closer to the mainland than when they are farther away. The obvious reason is that the process of invasion, or the initial journey to the island, is more difficult when the distance is greater. The ease of the journey is different for different taxa, as birds may have no problem flying to an island whereas ground mammals would find it nearly impossible. Extinction is also known to occur faster on smaller islands because the available space fills up more quickly and competition drives some species to extinction.

Sometimes a new colonist finds abundant resources and little competition and is therefore highly successful and potentially free to evolve to take advantage of all the newly available untapped resources. In these cases, the evolutionary process impacts the colonizers faster than invasions of new species.

Examples of this situation can be found on remote islands such as the Hawaiian islands, where there are many closely related species of fruit fly that occur nowhere else. In this case, an ancestor was probably blown into the new habitat, where it established itself and had many generations of progeny, each of which ultimately invaded new habitats or neighboring islands that were free from competition. The new habitats were isolated enough from the founder population so that the invaders evolved into new species.

see also Migration.

Jean K. Krejca

Bibliography

Begon, Michael, John L. Harper, and Colin R. Townsend. Ecology, 2nd ed. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Scientific Publications, 1990.

Shafer, Craig L. Nature Preserves: Island Theory and Conservation Practice. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1990.

Smith, Robert L. Elements of Ecology, 2nd ed. New York: Harper & Row, 1986.

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Colonization

118. Colonization

  1. Evander Arcadian, founded settlement in Italy. [Gk. Myth.: Kravitz, 100]
  2. Jamestown, Virginia first permanent English settlement in New World (1607). [Am. Hist.: Jameson, 255]
  3. Mayflower ship which brought Pilgrims to New World (1620). [Am. Hist.: NCE, 1730]
  4. Plymouth Plantation first English settlement in New England (1620). [Am. Hist.: Major Bradfords Town ]
  5. thirteen original colonies earliest settlements became first states in U.S. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 2733]
  6. Williamsburg monument of American colonial period; settled in 1632. [Am. Hist.: Hart, 930]

Comedy (See ZANINESS .)

Comeuppance (See LAST LAUGH .)

Comfort (See LUXURY .)

Commerce (See FINANCE .)

Companionship (See FRIENDSHIP .)

Compassion (See KINDNESS .)

Compromise (See PEACEMAKING .)

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colonization

colonization The successful establishment of an invading species in a habitat.

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