It may be observed that the process of colonization and imperialism did not begin in the nineteenth century and has existed since the earliest times. It is a recorded fact that the Greeks, Romans, Persians and Chinese built vast empires and carved out colonies in various parts. These imperialist activities were justified on the ground that they represent fulfillment of divine mission.
In the modern times imperialist activities received a fillip after the Renaissance and a number of European powers embarked on adventures in various parts of the world and carved out colonial empire in America, Africa, India and East Indies. But it was only in the nineteenth century that imperialism assumed extreme form and various industrial nations of Europe, in desperate need of raw materials and markets for their manufactured goods, made a bid to establish colonies in Asia and Africa.
Apart from Britain, the other countries which were involved in this race for colonies included France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Russia, U.SA. and Japan. Often these powers were involved in mutual wars. Therefore, this phase of imperialism is also described as ‘era of aggressive imperialism’.