By the middle of 19th century colonialistic conquests came into a new phase. Innovations in transport and communication shortened distances and connected the world. Numerous explorers discovered new lands and people. After traders military usually conquered the wanted lands because of military superiority of European states. Great powers justified their conquests with economic needs but also with cultural mission. By the end of 19th century were competitors in colonialistic conquests European states when they were also joined the USA and Japan.

British colonial empire held by the end of 19th century an area about 29 million square kilometres: India, the Malay Peninsula, New Zealand, south Africa, Australia, Canada,... With aim to capture the Suez Canal which shortened the way to India Great Britain conquered Egypt, Cyprus and began with conquests in Africa: the Union of South Africa, Botswana, Rhodesia, Uganda, Kenya, Sudan, Nigeria, Togo,...

France expanded it's colonial empire predominately in Africa and Indochina. By expansion in western Africa the French reached Sudan and came into conflict with Great Britain. The Fashoda Incident was solved trough diplomacy and afterwards France captured equatorial Africa, part of Congo and Madagascar. In French hands fell also eastern part of Indochina (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos) which became the French Indochina. France had also smaller colonies in South America. By the end of 19th century was French colonial empire extended on area about 5 million square kilometres. Russian territorial expansion in the middle of 19th century was directed into Middle Asia and Caucasus and later towards Persia and Afghanistan and on east towards Mongolia and Manchuria. Great importance for the Russian economic progress was ending the construction of the Trans-Siberian railway. In 1867 Russia sold Alaska to the United States for for $7,200,000. After conquest of Port Arthur and Manchuria Russia turned to Korea and came in conflict with the new colonial empire Japan. In the Russo-Japanese war 1904-1905 Japan defeated Russia which was forced to cede part of it's territory to Japan. But nevertheless Russian Empire in the beginning of 20th century covered 22 million square kilometres.

Among old colonial states were also Portugal and Spain. Later in war against the USA in 1898 lost Cuba and Philippines. The most important Portuguese colonies were Angola and Mozambique in Africa. Successful in colonial conquests was also Belgium which captured ore rich territory in Congo. Africa was conquered also by Italy which captured Libya, Somalia and Eritrea while Italian attempt to conquer Ethiopia failed. By the end of 19th century colonial power became also Japan which captured Korea and afterwards turned towards China.
It's powers and impact expanded also the United States of America first in South America. As already mentioned in war against Spain the United States gained Cuba, in 1914 constructed the Panama Canal and for strategic reasons captured also Hawaii and Philippines.

In competition for colonies was included also Germany which gained about 2,6 million square kilometres of territory: German Eastern Africa, Cameroon, German South-West Africa and some smaller colonies elsewhere. Relatively late unification prevented Germany to start it's colonial conquest earlier and by the time of unification the world was already divided. In conviction that the world was unjustly divided Germany began to demand new division. Knowing later was possible only with war Germany began intensively to arm it self. Demand for new world division was the real cause and the arms race the path to the World War I.