Please take note: metro-pole, center or north are used interchangeable for the first world or developed world.

More than half of the recognized countries have a principles (certain issues) involving the Third World in the international system among which is Colonialism. In previous post, The Third World, Third world Characteristics, have been looked at.

The subject matter of this post is The Third World, International System and Colonialism.

International system is the interaction or relationship between two or more sovereign state. It is based on international relations. The contemporary international system was established through decolonization during the cold war. With this brief explanation it could be noted that Colonialism is a principle and issue that led to the establishment of contemporary international system and this is because decolonization took place during and after the cold war.

Colonialism is the establishment, exploitation, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by other people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metro-pole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government and economy of the colony are changed by colonizers from the metro-pole (centre or north). Colonialism is a set of unequal relationship between the colonists and the indigenous population.

Activity that could be called colonialism has a long history, starting with pre-colonial African Empires which lead to the Egyptians, Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans who built colonies of antiquity. the word “metro-pole” comes from Greek metropolis “mother city” .the word “colony” comes from Latin word Colonia ”a place of agriculture”.

Modern colonialism started the Age of Discovery Portugal and Spain discovered new lands across the oceans and built trading post or conquered large extensions of land. For some people ,it is the building of colonies across oceans that differentiated colonialism from other types of expansionism .this new lands were divided between the Portuguese Empire and Spanish empire, first by the papal bull  inter caetera and then by the treaty of Tordesillas and the treaty of Zaragoza(1529)

This period was also associated with commercial revolution, the late middle ages saw reforms in accountancy and banking in Italy and the eastern Mediterranean .These ideas were adopted and adapted in Western Europe to the high risks and reward associated with colonial ventures. The 17th century saw the creation of the French colonial empire and Dutch Empire, as well as the English colonial empire. It also saw the establishment of a Danish colonial empire and some Swedish overseas colonies.

In relation to this post the period of colonialism is The European colonial period which was the era 1550s arguably to the 1900s when several European power (particularly, but not exclusively Spain, Portugal ,Britain, the Netherlands and France) established colonies in Asia, America and the Americas. At first the countries followed mercantilist policies 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 mid 19th century, the powerful British Empire gave up mercantilism and trade restriction and introduced the principle of free trade, with few restriction or tariffs. “The essence of colonialism is the existence of colonies which are by definition governed directly from other territories such as protectorate or informal sphere of influence”.

Historians often distinguish between two overlapping form of colonialism Settler colonialism involves a large scale immigration, often motivated by religions, political or economic reasons. Exploitation colonialism involves power colonists and focuses in access to resources for export, typically to the metro-pole. This category includes trading posts as well as larger colonies where political and economic administrator resources or labor   and material prior to the end of the slave trade and widespread abolition when indigenous labor was unavailable ,slaves were often imported to the Americas first by the Spanish empire and later by the Dutch, French and British.

Plantation colonies would be considered as exploitation colonialism, but colonizing powers would utilize either type for different territories depending on various social ad economic factors as well as climatic and geographical conditions.

Surrogate colonialism involves a settlement project supported by colonial power, in which most of the settlers do not come from the mainstream of the ruling power.

Integral colonialism is a notion of uneven structural power between areas of a nation state, the source of exploitation comes from within the state.

The motive of colonialism was God that is to spread Christianity, Glory and Gold. Economic gains however the main motive behind colonialism was.  The spread of colonial empire was reduced in the late 18th and early 19th century by the American Revolutionary war and the Latin American wars of independence.

As colonialism often played out in pre-populated areas socio-cultural evolution   included the creation of various ethnically included hybrid population. Colonialism gave rise to culturally and ethnically mixed population such as the Mesotizos of the Americas, as well as racially divided populations as found in French Algeria or Southern Rhodesia .In fact everywhere colonial powers established a consistent and continued present hybrid communities existed, notable examples in Asia include the Anglo-Indian, Eurasian Singaporean, Tilipipomestizo, Kristana people and Mecanese people. In Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) the vast majority of Dutch settlers were in fact Eurasians known as Indo-Europeans, formally belonging to the European legal class in the colony.

Colonialism lasted for about 100 years in Africa and indeed it had a great impact on African people and their continents through controversial Historian have argued that the impact was both and negative. Afro centric and Marxist historian like Walter Rodney and Kabwegyere hold that colonialism made no positive impact on Africa.

To summaries the discussion of colonialism: a third world principle in the international system, having looked at what international system is, definition of Colonialism, the history, period and types of colonialism, the motive and impact of colonialism, it could be said that most of the Third world Countries have been colonized at different times and indeed colonialism can be said to be a principle in the international system.


Afigbo, A. E et al, The making of Africa: The twentieth century, vol. 2; London, Longman group UK ltd, 1971.

Ferro, M. (1997) Colonisation: A Global History (London: Routledge).

History Of Colonialism And Chronology Of Colonialism Retrieved on 09 February 2017

James E Doughrty , Theoretical Approaches To International Relation        

Jan Palmowku, Dictionary Of Contemporary World History from 1900 to present day, 3rd edition, USA : Oxford University Press 2008.