Colonialism is the policy of a nation seeking to extend or retain its authority over other people or territories, generally with the aim of developing or exploiting them to the benefit of the colonizing country and helping the colonies modernize in terms defined by the colonizers, especially in economics, religion and health.
The European colonial period was the era from the 15th century to 1914 when Spain, Portugal, Britain, France, the Netherlands, Germany and several smaller European countries established colonies outside Europe. It has been estimated that by 1914, Europeans "had gained control of 84% of the globe", and by 1800, before the Industrial Revolution had taken hold, they already controlled at least 35%. The system practically ended 1945-1975 when nearly all colonies became independent. At first, the countries followed a policy of mercantilism, designed to strengthen the home economy at the expense of rivals, so the colonies were usually allowed to trade only with the mother country. By the mid-19th century, however, the powerful British Empire gave up mercantilism and trade restrictions and introduced the principle of free trade, with few restrictions or tariffs. Christian missionaries were active in practically all the colonies. By the late 19th century Japan was an active colonizer....LESS