Nationalism vs. Imperialism: Know the Difference
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 4, 2023
Nationalism is a belief in the superiority and interests of one's nation, while imperialism is the practice of extending a country's power through colonization or military force.
Nationalism centers on strong identification with one's own nation and culture, often advocating for national independence. Imperialism, however, involves a state extending its power over other lands, frequently through conquest or colonization.
Nationalists typically focus on promoting their nation's interests and values, striving for self-governance. Imperialists, on the other hand, aim to expand their influence and territory, sometimes at the expense of other nations' sovereignty.
While nationalism can unite people under a shared identity and common goals, imperialism often leads to the domination and control of other regions for economic and political gain.
The rise of nationalism can challenge imperialist powers by promoting self-determination and resistance to foreign control. Conversely, imperialism often faces resistance from nationalist movements seeking to preserve or establish national sovereignty.
Nationalism can manifest in various forms, from patriotic pride to xenophobia, but it fundamentally relates to a sense of belonging and loyalty to one's nation. Imperialism, in contrast, is characterized by a desire for empire-building and global influence.
Devotion to and promotion of one's nation.
Expansion of a state’s control over other areas.
National sovereignty and identity.
Acquisition of territories and resources.
Inspired independence movements.
Led to colonization and empire building.
Through cultural pride, political movements.
Through conquest, colonization, trade.
Relation to Sovereignty
Seeks self-governance for the nation.
Often undermines the sovereignty of other nations.
Nationalism and Imperialism Definitions
Advocacy for national independence in a country under foreign domination.
Nationalism was a driving force behind the colonial countries' struggle for independence.
A system where a powerful nation controls and exploits less powerful territories.
Imperialism led to the exploitation of natural resources in colonized lands.
A sentiment that places the interests of the nation above external influences.
Economic nationalism prioritizes domestic industries over foreign competition.
The practice of extending a state's influence over other areas for economic benefit.
The search for new markets was a key motive for imperialism.
Devotion, especially excessive or undiscriminating devotion, to the interests or culture of a particular nation-state.
The policy of extending a country's power through colonization or military force.
The 19th century was marked by European imperialism in Africa and Asia.
The belief that nations will benefit from acting independently rather than collectively, emphasizing national rather than international goals.
Domination of one country by another for political or economic gain.
British imperialism shaped the political map of modern South Asia.
The belief that a particular cultural or ethnic group constitutes a distinct people deserving of political self-determination.
A policy of expanding a nation's authority over other countries.
Cultural imperialism refers to the imposition of one culture over another.
Patriotism; the idea of supporting one's country, people or culture.
The extension of a nation's authority by territorial acquisition or by the establishment of economic and political dominance over other nations.
Support for the creation of a sovereign nation (which does not currently exist).
A political doctrine or system promoting such extension of authority.
Support for the union of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
The policy of forcefully extending a nation's authority by territorial gain or by the establishment of economic and political dominance over other nations.
The state of being national; national attachment; nationality.
The power or character of an emperor; imperial authority; the spirit of empire.
Roman imperialism had divided the world.
An idiom, trait, or character peculiar to any nation.
The policy, practice, or advocacy of seeking, or acquiescing in, the extension of the control, dominion, or empire of a nation, as by the acquirement of new, esp. distant, territory or dependencies, or by the closer union of parts more or less independent of each other for operations of war, copyright, internal commerce, etc. The practise of building or extending an empire.
The tide of English opinion began to turn about 1870, and since then it has run with increasing force in the direction of what is called imperialism.
National independence; the principles of the Nationalists.
A policy of extending your rule over foreign countries
A devotion to one's country; patriotism;
A political orientation that advocates imperial interests
The policy of advocating the independence of one's country.
Any instance of aggressive extension of authority
The policy of advocating the interests of one's own country exclusively, regardless of effects of a country's actions on other countries.
Love of country and willingness to sacrifice for it
The doctrine that several different cultures (rather than one national culture) can co-exist peacefully and equitably in a single country
The aspiration for national independence felt by people under foreign domination
The doctrine that nations should act independently (rather than collectively) to attain their goals
Loyalty and devotion to a nation.
The rise of nationalism in the 19th century led to the unification of Italy.
A belief in the superiority of one's own nation.
Nationalism can sometimes lead to strained international relations.
A movement to promote the interests and culture of a nation.
The festival was a celebration of cultural nationalism, showcasing traditional music and dance.
Repeatedly Asked Queries
How is imperialism defined?
As a policy or practice of extending a state's rule over other territories.
Can nationalism be positive?
Yes, when it fosters unity and shared identity without promoting superiority or xenophobia.
What are the effects of imperialism?
It often leads to economic exploitation and cultural domination of the colonized regions.
Can nationalism lead to independence movements?
Yes, nationalist movements have historically sought self-determination and independence.
What motivated historical imperialism?
Factors like economic gain, political control, and cultural superiority.
Did imperialism contribute to globalization?
In many ways, yes, through the spread of cultures, economies, and political ideas.
What are the consequences of imperialism for colonized societies?
Often, economic exploitation, cultural erosion, and political subjugation.
Does nationalism always lead to conflict?
Not necessarily, though extreme nationalism can lead to xenophobia and international tensions.
What is nationalism?
A political ideology that emphasizes loyalty and devotion to one's nation.
Are there modern forms of imperialism?
Yes, such as economic and cultural imperialism.
How do nationalist movements differ across countries?
They vary based on historical, cultural, and political contexts.
Can nationalism be inclusive?
Ideally, it should be, promoting unity without discriminating against minorities.
How did imperialism shape world history?
It significantly altered political boundaries, economies, and cultures globally.
Is nationalism inherently political?
Yes, as it involves concepts of governance, sovereignty, and national identity.
How does nationalism affect international relations?
It can either strengthen a nation's global standing or cause international friction.
How has imperialism influenced current global politics?
Past imperial policies continue to affect international relations and economic dynamics.
What ended the era of traditional imperialism?
Decolonization after World War II and the rise of self-determination movements.
Can a nationalist also be an imperialist?
In history, some nationalist movements have harbored imperialist tendencies.
What role did imperialism play in the world wars?
Imperialist ambitions were a significant factor in both conflicts.
Does nationalism impact economic policies?
Yes, through concepts like protectionism and economic independence.
Share this page
Link for your blog / website
Link to share via messenger
Written byShumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.