Colonisation (also known as Colonization) occurs whenever any one or more species populates a new area. The term, which is derived from the Latin "colere", "to inhabit, cultivate, frequent, practice, tend, guard, respect," [cite book|title=The Colonization of Unfamiliar Landscapes |author =Marcy Rockman, James Steele|year= 2003|publisher=Routledge|id=ISBN 0415256062] originally related to humans. However, 19th century biogeographers dominated the term to describe the activities of birds or bacteria, or plant species. [cite book|title=The Colonization of Unfamiliar Landscapes |author =Marcy Rockman, James Steele|year= 2003|publisher=Routledge|id=ISBN 0415256062] Human colonization is a narrower category than the related concept of colonialism, because whereas colonization refers to the establishment of settler colonies, trading posts, and plantations with the metropole's own population, 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. These appear to have been more benign, emphasizing the farming of 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.

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 (better known in its French form Cologne), which was originally called "Colonia Claudia" by the Romans; and the British capital city of London which the Romans started as "Londinium".

Middle Ages

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.

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 and imperialism

Colonialism in this sense refers to Western European countries' colonisation of lands mainly in the Americas, Oceania and Africa; however it also covers their taking control over lands already inhabited by native populations. The main European countries that were successful in this Colonial Era were Britain, France, Spain, The United Netherlands and Portugal. Each one of these countries had a period of almost complete power in the world trade during from roughly 1500 to 1800.

Modern Colonization

In some cases, expatriate communities do set up permanently in target countries, which is a 'truer' colonization, though in many cases (especially when not gathered into a community) expatriates do not necessarily seek to 'expand their native civilization', but rather to integrate into the population of the new civilization.

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.

The term "cocacolonisation" 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 move need to move to the colonized country.

Hypothetical or fictional types of 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.

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 inhabitable 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 intelligent species 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

* Colonialism


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • COLONISATION — L’objet de cet article n’est pas d’esquisser une histoire générale de la colonisation mais de poser les problèmes relatifs aux différentes étapes de cette histoire. L’expansion de l’Europe du XVIe au XXe siècle a été l’un des événements les plus… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • colonisation — British English spelling of COLONIZATION (Cf. colonization); see also IZE (Cf. ize) …   Etymology dictionary

  • colonisation — (Brit.) n. establishing of colonies (also colonization) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Colonisation — La colonisation est un processus d expansion territoriale et démographique qui se caractérise par des flux migratoires ; l occupation et l exploitation d un espace géographique, la mise en tutelle et la domination politique, culturelle,… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • colonisation — (ko lo ni za sion) s. f. Action de coloniser ; le résultat de cette action. La colonisation de l Algérie. Colonisation civile. Colonisation militaire. ÉTYMOLOGIE    Coloniser …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • colonisation — kolonijos susidarymas statusas Aprobuotas sritis augalų apsauga apibrėžtis Mikroorganizmo išplitimas ir išlikimas tam tikroje aplinkoje, pavyzdžiui, kūno paviršiuje (odoje) ar vidiniuose kūno organuose (žarnyne, plaučiuose) ilgiau nei tikimasi.… …   Lithuanian dictionary (lietuvių žodynas)

  • colonisation — the establishment (reproduction) of a species in an area not currently occupied by that species. Colonisation often involves dispersal across an area of unsuitable habitat …   Dictionary of ichthyology

  • colonisation — British variant of colonization …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • COLONISATION — s. f. Action de coloniser, ou Le résultat de cette action …   Dictionnaire de l'Academie Francaise, 7eme edition (1835)

  • COLONISATION — n. f. Action de coloniser ou Résultat de cette action …   Dictionnaire de l'Academie Francaise, 8eme edition (1935)

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