"To sum up the whole, the British rule has been morally, a great blessing; politically, peace and order on one hand, blunders on the other; materially, impoverishment . . . The natives call the British system 'Sakar ki Churi,' 'the knife of sugar.'  That is to say there is no oppression, it is all smooth and sweet, but it is the knife, notwithstanding."

--Dadabhai Naoroji, the first Indian elected to the British Parliament, 1871, in a speech about the impact of Great Britain on India, as quoted by Beck, et al.


Imperialism is an era in history that started after the Industrial Revolution when more industrialized Western nations, including those in Europe and the United States, took control of other non-industrialized nations, or colonies, around the globe. It lasted well into the twentieth century.

The impact of Imperialism can still be felt today. However, there is big ambiguity about the question whether Imperialism was a blessing or a curse to the peoples subjected to their colonizers.

The primary motives of the Western nations can be grouped as political, economic, religious, ideological, and exploratory. Generally, Western nations took advantage of the pre-existing authority of local leaders (indirect rule) and/or exerted control through coercion and force (direct rule). Yet, in most cases, Western nations brought modernization and infrastructure developments to their colonies, but often at a high cost to the local people and their traditions. Eventually, most colonies either gained or were granted independence, but many of these new nations are still struggling to achieve stability and self-sufficiency as compared to the countries that used to control them during the Age of Imperialism.


In this WebQuest, you will act as part of a delegation from an assigned country that was once a colony. You will research the form that Imperialism took in that country.

Your delegation's task is to investigate the question: Were the effects of Imperialism in your country more positive or more negative overall?