Colonization definition/Spanish/English/Features of English colonization

Colonization is the process by which humans have occupied new territories around the world. A colonization can have as objective the habitation or the exploitation of resources. Colonization definition

The period of colonization in the Modern Age begins at the end of the 14th century, with the economic growth of European and Asian countries. Colonizations from this period are generally characterized by the use of violence and domination by native peoples.

European colonization , which encompassed most of the world, had as its main motivation the search for goods for commercialization and precious metals .

During this period, mercantilism prevailed, an economic model based on commercial exchanges and the accumulation of gold and silver. Colonization definition

The main colonizing nations in Europe were: Portugal, Spain, England, France and Holland. The period of colonization by these countries begins at the beginning of the 15th century and extends until the 19th century.

Spanish colonization

Spanish colonization begins with the arrival of Christopher Columbus on October 12, 1492, on an island in the Bahamas region . The Caribbean islands were the first Spanish occupations, where a large part of the natives were decimated by the violence and diseases brought by the colonizers.

Then, the Spanish colonization extended to the continental areas of the Americas, dominating an extensive region that goes from the territory that is now California to Patagonia – western part of the Treaty of Tordesillas.

The Spaniards, as well as the Portuguese, had the objective of obtaining precious metals and the exploitation of tropical products to be commercialized and for this they used slave labor. Colonization definition

Much of the slave labor in the Spanish colonies was indigenous, who were subjugated by catechization. Black Africans were not used as much by the Spaniards in their territory, with the exception of the Caribbean islands and regions such as Peru, Colombia and Venezuela.

Spanish society was hierarchically divided as follows:

  • Chapetones: Spaniards who held high positions in the administration.
  • Criollos: children of Spaniards who were born in America, in general, they worked in the great agriculture and commerce.
  • Mestizos, Indians and slaves: base of society, they performed marginalized functions or were subjected to compulsory work. Colonization definition

Features of Spanish Colonization


The Spanish-dominated territory was divided into three Viceroyalties , which were subordinate to the Spanish Crown: Viceroyalty of New Spain, Viceroyalty of India and Viceroyalty of Peru.

From the 18th century onwards, three other Viceroyalties were created: Viceroyalty of Nova Granada; Viceroyalty of Rio de la Plata and Viceroyalty of Peru. Also, four general captaincies: Cuba, Guatemala, Venezuela and Chile.

To administer the vast Spanish territory, institutions were created for the appointment of Viceroys, for the creation of laws, supervision of activities and collection of taxes and Courts of Justice. In addition, there were the missions, responsible for the catechization of the Indians.


The Spanish colonies had mining as their main activity. The compulsory labor of the Indians was carried out in two ways: Colonization definition

  • Encomienda: in exchange for work, food and protection, the Indian received evangelization.
  • Mita: it was a temporary work regime, usually in mines and under terrible conditions. The indigenous people were randomly selected for this work and a very small number returned home at the end of the period. Due to the extreme insalubrity of the work, most ended up dying during the short period of exploitation.

English colonization

The British colonized the 13 colonies in North America , which would become the United States. Unlike what happened in Portuguese and Spanish colonization, English colonization was carried out, above all, by private initiative and not by the State.

England sent “unwanted elements” of the population to North America, such as the unemployed, orphans, criminals and indebted peasants. There was little control over these colonies, as the metropolis faced internal turmoil, with political and religious disputes.

Life in society in the English colonies was marked by a deep segregation between whites, Indians and blacks . It is true that there was segregation and racism in the other colonies in the Americas, but in the case of the British, the relationship between these peoples was even more distant. Colonization definition

Union between natives and English was very rare and between whites and blacks was practically non-existent. It is worth adding that during the colonial period, many exterminations of indigenous people were carried out.

Features of English colonization


From 1606 the process of colonization of North America begins, when the English crown grants the territories of the 13 colonies to two companies: the London Company , which dominated the northern territories and the Plymouth Company , which occupied the southern colonies. .

These companies had autonomy to explore the territory, but they were subordinate to the English State. Each colony operated under the concept of self-government and enjoyed political autonomy.


The economic activities developed were very different in the northern and southern colonies. The north had a more temperate climate, used servile labor and produced for the domestic market. In addition, these colonies developed commerce and manufacture . Colonization definition

The northern colonies carried on an intense trade with the Spanish colonies in the Caribbean and Africa. During this period, the exchange of enslaved people for rum and tobacco was common.

The south had a subtropical climate and had monoculture for export as its main economic activity. The working relationship in these colonies was mostly slave.

French colonization

French colonization in the Americas began to be successful in the 17th century, two centuries after colonization by the Iberian countries began. Before that, the country had some unsuccessful attempts to invade the territories of Iberian colonization.

The main French colonies in America were New France and Quebec, in present-day Canada, some islands in the Caribbean, among them Haiti and French Guiana in South America.

Features of French Colonization


The French state exercised strong control over the American colonies, but despite this, the country lost its territories over the centuries of colonization . Colonization definition

The first loss was the conquest of New France, which was located in North America, by the English and the natives of the region, in 1763. Then they lost other territories in North America and also in Asia.

In Haiti, it faced a massive revolution of the enslaved population, which resulted in that country’s independence in 1804 – the only successful slave revolt in history.


The objective of the colonization of the American territories was the exploitation for export of tropical products , such as bananas, tobacco, rum, coffee and sugar, with the exception of French Guiana, whose main activity was fishing and the exploitation of gold. .

In the territories conquered in North America, which are now part of Canada, the main product exploited by the French was the skins of animals , mainly beavers and foxes. Colonization definition

The North American colonies used free labor, whereas in the Caribbean islands, there was extensive use of slave labor.

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