The policy or practice of assuming complete control over a territory or people by an occupying force for a long period. The first use of the expression came during the European colonial period, when several European powers such as Spain, Britain, Netherlands, France, and Portugal, extended their national boundaries to geographically distant countries in Africa, Asia and the Americas. These foreign powers dominated and exploited the weaker nations, which had a different culture and dominant racial or ethnic group. An example of colonialism is the British control of the Indian subcontinent from the eighteenth century to 1947. One result of colonialism has been language acquisition. In many former French colonies such as Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ivory Coast, French is either the official language or widely spoken across the country. Similarly, in former British colonies such as India and Pakistan, one of the official languages is English.