Effects of Colonial Rule on Asian Pacific Countries Prior To World War II

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In the last several centuries, Western imperialistic expansion has significantly changed the Pacific Asian region. (Borthwick 2007, 61) Essentially, colonialism is defined as “control by one country over another area and its people.” (Unknown 2013) During this time, territorial expansion was a primary goal of England, France, United States of America and the Empire of
Japan. Their ability to travel great distances combined with military superiority allowed for these countries to exert their influence and occupy greater territory. This era helped shape the Southeast Asia region in a profound way. This paper will discuss how prior to World War II colonial rule affected development in the region as well as economic and societal changes.

The Far East, more specifically South East Asia, was seen in Western eyes as a vast opportunity to develop a region which up to this point hadn’t become industrialized. (Borthwick 2007, 80) South East Asia had been known to the western world for centuries due to land trading routes established previously throughout the region. (Borthwick 2007, 65) While there were many nations that were imperialistic, Great Britain and France were among the most vigorous in their pursuit of greater power. Imperialism in South East Asia took off with the ability to transport military might via sea from far distances. From the early 1800’s to World War II, these two countries ruled over more than one-third the surface of the world. (Borthwick 2007, 81)
Great Britain controlled India, Burma (Myanmar), Malaysia, British New Guinea, Singapore, Sarawak, Brunei, Bhutan and Hong Kong. Conversely, France controlled Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos as depicted in figure 1. Thailand, then Siam, was the lone country that was neve...

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