The difficulty of defining colonialism stems from the fact that theterm is often used as a synonym for imperialism. Both colonialism andimperialism were forms of conquest that were expected to benefitEurope economically and strategically. The term colonialism isfrequently used to describe the settlement of North America,Australia, New Zealand, Algeria, and Brazil, places that werecontrolled by a large population of permanent European residents. Theterm imperialism often describes cases in which a foreign governmentadministers a territory without significant settlement; typicalexamples include the scramble for Africa in the late nineteenthcentury and the American domination of the Philippines and PuertoRico. The distinction between the two, however, is not entirelyconsistent in the literature. Some scholars distinguish betweencolonies for settlement and colonies for economic exploitation. Othersuse the term colonialism to describe dependencies that are directlygoverned by a foreign nation and contrast this with imperialism, whichinvolves indirect forms of domination.


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