Historians often distinguish between two forms of colonialism, chiefly based on the number of people from the colonizing country who settle in the colony:
Settler colonialism involved a large number of colonists, typically seeking fertile land to farm.
Exploitation colonialism involved fewer colonists, typically interested in extracting resources to export to the metro pole.
This category includes trading posts but it also includes much larger colonies where the colonists would provide much of the administration and own much of the land and other capital but rely on indigenous people for labor.
There is a certain amount of overlap between these models of colonialism. In both cases people moved to the colony and goods were exported to the metro pole.
A plantation colony is normally considered to fit the model of exploitation colonialism. However, in this case there may be other immigrants to the colony – slaves to grow the cash crop for export.
In some cases, settler colonialism took place in substantially pre- populated areas and the result was either an culturally mixed population (such as the matzos of the Americas), or a racially divided population, such as in French Algeria or Southern Rhodesia.
A League of Nations mandate was legally very different from a colony. However, there was some similarity with exploitation colonialism in the mandate system.
Basic Features of Colonialism
One basic feature of colonialism is that under it the colony is integrated into the world capitalism system in a subordinate position. Colonialism is characterized by unequal exchange.
The exploitative international division of labor meant that the metropolis produced goods of high value with high technology and colonies produced goods of low value and productivity with low technology. The colony produced raw materials while the metropolis produced manufactured goods.
The pattern of railway development in India in the second half of the 19th century was in keeping with the interests of British industry.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak, the Indian nationalist leader, described this as decorating another’s wife. The colony was articulated with the world market but internally disarticulated. Its agricultural sector did not serve its industry but the metropolitan economy and the world market.
The drain of wealth took place through unrequited exports and state expenditure on armed forces and civil services. Foreign political domination is the fourth feature of Colonialism. Therefore, unequal exchange, external integration and internal disarticulation, drain of wealth, and a foreign political domination may be understood as the four main features of colonialism.