The American empires of Spain and Portugal did not expand after the seventeenth century. From that time other countries – France, Holland and England – began to extend their trading activities and to establish colonies – in America, Africa and Asia; Ireland also was virtually a colony of England, as the landowners there were mostly English settlers. From the eighteenth century, it became obvious that while it was the prospect of profit which drove people to establish colonies, there were significant variations in the nature of the control established. In South Asia, trading companies like the East India Company made themselves into political powers, defeated local rulers and annexed their territories. They retained the older well-developed administrative system and collected taxes from landowners. Later
they built railways to make trade easier, excavated mines and established big plantations.
In Africa, Europeans traded on the coast, except in South Africa, and only in the late nineteenth century did they venture into the
interior. After this, some of the European countries reached an agreement to divide up Africa as colonies for themselves. The word ‘settler’ is used for the Dutch in South Africa, the British in Ireland, New Zealand and Australia, and the Europeans in America. The official language in these colonies was English (except in Canada, where French is also an official language).