The Colonisation By European Empires

Colonisation by European Empires had a significant impact on Africa, America and Asia. In the 16th century the colonisation of these countries brought on powerful and important changes which had a definite impact on the future of their country. These changes proved to have both negative and positive impacts.

The colonisation by European Empires had a significant impact on Africa in the 16th century. Before the Europeans came, Africans were nomadic hunters and some were skilled artists who sculpted masks and statues of wood, gold or bronze. This is why the Europeans wanted to take over Africa as they wanted the natural resources that Africa had. It was easy for Europeans to have control because they had more advanced technology. The Europeans had guns and cannons while Africans had only bows and spears. In the 16th century in Central America, the Europeans had a majority of the native people (Aztecs) enslaved or killed and therefore needed more slaves to work for them in Central America. The Europeans then packed Africans on a slave ship and sent them off to Central America. During this trip 25% of the Africans died due to extremely poor conditions and malnutrition with some even resorting to suicide. Robert Darlington wrote in 2012 “…poor quality food led to scurvy and lack of hygiene meant that diseases such as dysentery spread quickly” (Darlington, 2012, p. 367).

Africans were treated badly and were taken advantage of by the Europeans. Their culture and traditions were lost, families were torn apart and they had all their resources taken from them. On the other hand they gained a source of education, a better defence against their enemy’s, better sources of technology, more jobs were created and the Africans siding with the Europeans made them more powerful. In the future the Africans did get their independence and with that a higher understanding of technology and the world. Therefore it is evident that the Europeans had a positive and negative impact on the Africans.

The colonisation by the Spanish Empire also had a significant impact on Central America in the 16th century. In this time Central America was inhabited by the Aztecs who had been living there for many years. When the Spanish arrived in America they had no idea that their quest for gold and to spread their religion would end an entire civilisation. The Aztecs had not had anyone outside their culture on their land before and their bodies were not familiar with any of the diseases that the Spanish had brought with them, such as: small pox, S.T.Ds and Dysentery. The decline of the Aztec population had begun with this.

The Spanish conquistador, Hernan Cortez, then came to the Americans obsessed with claiming this land for himself. Cortez caused a ten year war between the Aztecs and the Spanish which ended with most Aztecs either dead or slaves for the Spanish. Sherburne Brook wrote in 1769 “…the utter devastation caused by the white man was literally incredible…”(Darlington, 2012, p. 370). The Aztecs had all of their cities destroyed, all of their land taken from them, so much of their culture lost, death from disease, death from violence between the conflict, death from famine and most of all loss of dignity. For those lucky few Aztecs that had lived through this upheaval, Central America now had an increased understanding of medicine, art, science, architecture, transport and warfare to better them in the future. Therefore the Spanish colonisation both had good and bad impacts on Central America.

Colonisation by European Empires also had a significant impact on Southeast Asia in the 16th century. It was the lure of trade that brought Europeans to Southeast Asia while missionaries also tagged along the ships as they hoped to spread Christianity into the region. Initially they went on expeditions in search of spices but they soon established naval bases to supply and protect their trade routes. Various European nations (mainly Britain, Spain, France and the Netherlands), began to colonise a large part of the continent and exploit its other resources such as minerals, precious stones and rubber using a cheap local labour force.

Colonialism affected Southeast Asia profoundly. Some of the changes were negative and others positive. Many thousands died from disease such as smallpox that the Europeans brought over. They were also introduced to alcohol and many natives became addicted, so addicted that it caused many deaths from intoxication levels being too high. The Asian civilisation had a major loss of money which allowed many to die from famine as the growing population wasn’t able to afford food causing many people to starve to death. Michael Bretcher wrote in 1963 that …colonialism in Southeast Asia brought modern Western ideas and concepts to Southeast Asia… (Borthwick, 2007, p.235) new transportation methods, modern technology, educational benefits and their sanitation improved. Colonisation brought with it good and bad changes that significantly changed the Asian people’s way of life.

Overall it has been outlined clearly, the significant impact that European Empires had on Africa, American and Asia during the 16th century. The impact on these countries forced huge change to happen. Unfortunately within these changes there were many lives lost but much technology was gained. It is evident that the positive changes that were introduced were beneficial to the modernisation of the countries.