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European colonialism refers to the worldwide colonial expansion of European countries, which began in the early modern period, c. 1500. Following up on the various medieval European colonising crusades in the Levant and in the Baltic region, states such as Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, Britain and France established colonial spheres of influence, most notably in Africa, India, Southeast Asia and the Americas.
Some commentators identify three waves of European colonialism.
The three main countries in the first wave of European colonialism were the early Ottoman Empire, Spain and Portugal. .The Portuguese started the long age of European colonisation with the conquest of Ceuta,Morocco in 1415, and the conquest and discovery of other African territories and islands, this would also start the movement known as the Age of Discoveries. The Ottomans conquered South Eastern Europe, the Middle East and much of Northern and Eastern Africa between 1359 and 1653. The Spanish and Portuguese launched the colonisation of the Americas, basing their territorial claims on the Treaty of Tordesillas of 1494. This treaty demarcated the respective spheres of influence of Spain and Portugal. The expansion achieved by Spain and Portugal caught the attention of Britain, France and the Netherlands.[need quotation to verify] The entrance of these three powers into the Caribbean and North America perpetuated European colonialism in these regions.[need quotation to verify]
The second wave of European colonialism commenced with Britain's involvement in Asia in support of the British East India Company; other countries such as France, Portugal and the Netherlands also had involvement in European expansion in Asia.
The third wave consisted of the Scramble for Africa, regulated by the terms of the Berlin Conference of 1884–1885. The conference effectively divided Africa among the European powers. Vast regions of Africa came under the sway of Britain, France, Germany, Portugal, Belgium, Italy and Spain – which gives insight to Africa's post-colonial diversity.[need quotation to verify]
Gilmartin explains these three waves of colonialism have been linked[by whom?] to capitalism. The first wave of European expansion involved exploring the world to find new revenue and perpetuating European feudalism. The second wave focused on developing the mercantile capitalism system and the manufacturing industry in Europe. The last wave of European colonialism solidified all capitalistic endeavours by providing new markets and raw materials.
Outside Europe, European settler colonialism (as opposed to exploitation colonialism) has had particularly lasting major effects on the demographics and cultures of the Americas, North Africa, North Asia (Siberia and the Russian Far East) Central Asia and Australasia.
Commentators have identified three broad waves of European colonial and imperial expansion, connected with specific territories. The first targeted the Americas, North and South, as well as the Caribbean. The second focused on Asia, while the third wave extended European control into Africa.
Spain and Portugal were primarily responsible for colonizing South America from the fifteenth century onwards, with the territory divided between the two countries by the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494.
[Spain and Portugal] were followed by the british, French and Dutch, who made territorial gains particularly in North America and the Caribbean.
Britain - under the auspices of the East India Company - was at the forefront in colonizing Asia, particularly India, from the seventeenth century onwards, though other European countries, such as Portugal, the Netherlands and France, also had Asian colonial possessions.
The third wave, from the 1880s onwards, is often described as 'New Imperialism' and was focused on Africa.
[The third wave] was structured by the Berlin Conference (1884-85), which involved the main European powers and served to divide Africa between them. Following the Conference, a number of European powers became involved in the so-called Scramble for Africa. Within twenty years, the vast majority of the territory of Africa had been carved up between Britain, France, Germany, Portugal, Belgium, Italy and Spain [...].
These three broad waves of colonial expansion have often been linked to the development of capitalism.
The first wave has been explained in terms of a crisis of European feudalism, with European powers in search of new sources of revenue.
The second wave has been associated with the development of mercantile capitalism and also the development of manufacturing in Europe.
The third wave facilitated the consolidation of European capitalism, particularly through the provision of raw materials and new markets [...].