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In Wikipedia, there is an article about New Imperialism, which refers to the territorial or colonial expansion during 19th-20th century. The article also says that the qualifier "New" is to contrast with earlier imperialism (particularly, European colonization in 15th to early 19th century).

Did the new imperialism differ in nature from 15th-19th century imperialism/colonialism, other than the difference in time frame? How was it different?

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Wikipedia is your friend, e.g. on these specific circumstances. –  Drux Apr 28 '13 at 5:43
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The early imperialism, from the 16th to the 18th century, was characterized by European "settlers." Europeans would go to the Americas (North and South) or Australia. They would then "push aside" the natives, while living there the rest of their lives. Thus, the European colonies (at least the "settled" parts) would consist mostly of European descendants in North America and Australia, or "mixed" European and native people (with a European upper class) in South America.

In the later imperialism, Europeans went to Asia and Africa to "colonize" or rule, rather than "push aside" native peoples. They would spend there "careers" in the colonies, but their goal was to "retire "rich" in their HOME (European) country. As such, they were what the Americans would call "carpetbaggers." These European colonies' populations would consist mostly of "natives."

India represented a transition from one kind of imperialism to the other. It was colonized by the British in the mid-18th century, at the end of the first (settler) imperialism, and ahead of the second (colonial) imperialism.

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British India and Dutch East India (Indonesia) were colonized during "old imperialism" era, but the population were mostly local. –  Louis Rhys Apr 28 '13 at 15:19
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