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Colonization (or colonisation) occurs whenever any one or more species populate an area. The term, which is derived from the Latin colere, "to inhabit, cultivate, frequent, practice, tend, guard, respect",[1] originally related to humans. However, 19th century biogeographers dominated the term to describe the activities of birds, bacteria, or plant species. (In the 1990s it became synonymous with the X-Files as a reference to alien colonization).[1] Human colonization is a narrower category than the related concept of colonialism, because whereas colonization refers to settler colonies, trading posts, and plantations, colonialism deals with this and the ruling of new territories' existing peoples.


Historical Colonizations

Classical Period

In ancient times, maritime nations such as the city-states of Greece and Phoenicia often established colonies to farm uninhabited land. In classical times, land suitable for farming was often claimed by migratory "barbarian tribes" who lived by hunting and gathering. To ancient civilized people, the land simply appeared vacant. However this does not mean that conflict did not exist between the colonizers and native peoples.

In Asia, under the Achaemenid Empire, ethnic Persians did some colonizing in their new territory, such as Egypt.[citation needed] After the Rise of Parthia in west of Asia some ethnic Persians settled in India. The Pallava Empire was born in India, made by Persian colonies that had settled there.[citation needed]

Another period of colonization in Ancient times was from the Romans. The Roman Empire conquered a large part of Western Europe, North Africa and West Asia. In North Africa and west Asia they were often conquering civilized peoples, but as they moved north into Europe they mostly encountered rural tribes with very little in the way of cities. In these areas, waves of Roman colonization often followed the conquest of the areas.

Many of the current cities around Europe began as Roman colonies, such as the German city Köln (Cologne), which was originally called Colonia Claudia by the Romans; and the British capital city of London which the Romans founded as Londinium.

Middle Ages

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The decline and collapse of the Roman Empire saw (and was partly caused by) the large scale movement of people in Eastern Europe and Asia. This is largely seen as beginning with nomadic horsemen from Asia (specifically the Huns) moving into the richer pasture land to the west and so forcing the people there to move further west and so on until eventually the Goths were forced to cross into the Roman Empire, resulting in continuous war with Rome which played a major role in the fall of the Roman Empire. It was this period that saw the large scale movement of peoples establishing new colonies all over western Europe, the events of this time saw the development of many of the modern day nations of Europe, the Franks in France and Germany and the Anglo-Saxons in England.

In West Asia, during Sasanid Empires, some Persian people did some colonizing in Yemen and Oman.

The Vikings of Scandinavia also carried out a large scale colonization. The Vikings are best known as raiders, setting out from their original homelands in Denmark, southern Norway and southern Sweden, to pillage the coastlines of northern Europe. In time, the Vikings began trading, rather than raiding, and established colonies. The Vikings discovered Iceland and establishing colonies before moving onto Greenland, where they briefly held some colonies. The Vikings also launched an unsuccessful attempt at colonizing an area they called Vinland, which is probably at a site now known as L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland and Labrador, on the eastern coastline of Canada.

'Colonial era' colonialism

Colonialism in this sense refers to Western European countries' colonization of lands mainly in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania; the main European countries which were active in this form of colonization were Spain, Portugal, France, the Kingdom of England, the Netherlands, and from the 18th century Great Britain. Each of these countries had a period of almost complete power in world trade from roughly 1500 to 1800

Modern Colonization

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In some cases, expatriate niches do set up permanently in target countries but whether this can be rightly called colonization is debatable precisely because of the ambiguity of intentions behind the movement and settling of expatriates and in many cases (especially when not gathered into a niche per se) expatriates do not necessarily seek to 'expand their native civilization', but rather to integrate into the population of the new civilization. It must be recognized that expatriates are different from exiles and often there is very little if no relationship between them. Exiles are more often than not diasporic or displaced communities or persons who have fled their native territory or homeland to somewhere else and are usually in this position due to the ramifications of war or other major political upheavals and sometimes this includes the influence of colonization.

Many nations also have large numbers of guest workers who are brought in to do seasonal work such as harvesting or to do low-paid manual labor. Guest workers or contractors have a lower status than workers with visas, because guest workers can be removed at any time for any reason. Many human colonists came to colonies as slaves, so the legal power to leave or remain may not be the issue so much as the actual presence of the people in the new country.


This term, usually pejorative, refers to a sort of "unofficial" colonization, in which a country's government is overthrown by larger country and replaced by a government that coincides with the larger country's interests. In effect, this makes the country a colony, dealing with the problem of a revolutionary uprising by delivering the impression that the colony is still self-governed.

Other ways of using the term


The theory of Science policy colonization (Weingart and Mouton, 2004) argues that science policy is increasingly being dominated by scientific experts from developed, industrialized democracies. Scientists from poorer, emerging or developing democracies may mainly be given the role of collecting raw data. Experts from developed, industrialized democracies may have biases unchallenged that run counter to the best interests of emerging democracies such as South Africa (Weingart and Mouton (2004)). There are also concerns (UNESCO 1999) that the accountability mechanisms imposed on knowledge experts are inadequate.

Habitat - Botany and Zoology

In botanical and zoological ecoregions and habitats Invasive species can colonize, become the dominant or monotypic species, replacing indigenous or native ones due to lack of natural controls. Conservation biology uses this definition.


The term Cocacolonization is used to describe cases where a country's indigenous culture is eroded by a corporate mass-culture, usually from a powerful, industrialized country such as the United States (see cultural imperialism). This is more metaphorical usage as people need not move to the colonized country; only cultural signals, symbols, forms of entertainment, and values need to move to the colonized country.

Hypothetical or fictional types of Colonization

Ocean colonization

The hypothetical permanent habitation of locations in Earth's oceans is called ocean colonization. Related ideas such as the floating city are much less hypothetical - funds are presently being sought to build several large ships that would have permanent populations of up to 50,000 people each.

Space colonization

In science fiction, space colonization is sometimes more benign. Humans find an uninhabited planet, and inhabit it. The colonization of Mars is an often-used example of this type of space colonization. In more recent science fiction, humans may create habitable space (by terraforming or constructing a space habitat) and call that a "colony".

On the other hand, if the planet is already inhabited, much less benign consequences ensue: indeed, some science fiction authors have used the colonization of alien planets by humans, or the colonization of Earth by aliens, to explore the real-world issues surrounding the phenomenon. Such works include those of Mary Doria Russell, The Sparrow and Children of God.

The ultimate form of space colonization is the Kardashev scale which assumes that a single dominant civilisation will take over all energy on one planet, then one star, then a whole galaxy full of stars. However, this would not necessarily be so if other species were to be discovered during a galactic expansion. This may require more than one species to share the galactic space with each other as they both develop.

See also


  1. ^ a b Marcy Rockman, James Steele (2003). The Colonization of Unfamiliar Landscapes. Routledge. ISBN 0415256062. 

Further reading

  • Ankerl Guy: Coexisting Contemporary Civilizations: Arabo-Muslim, Bharati, Chinese, and Western. INUPress, Geneva, 2000. ISBN 2-88155-004-5

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  • Colonization — Разработчик Microprose Издатель M …   Википедия

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  • Colonization — Col o*ni*za tion, n. [Cf. F. colonisation.] The act of colonizing, or the state of being colonized; the formation of a colony or colonies. [1913 Webster] The wide continent of America invited colonization. Bancroft. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • colonization — 1766, noun of action from COLONIZE (Cf. colonize) …   Etymology dictionary

  • colonization — (Amer.) col·o·ni·za·tion || ‚kÉ’lÉ™naɪ zeɪʃn n. establishing of colonies (also colonisation) …   English contemporary dictionary

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  • Colonization — Sid Meier’s Colonization Entwickler: Microprose Verleger …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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