African people were divided into hundreds of ethnic groups. They spoke over 1,000 languages



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Imperialists Divide Africa

1. Describe Africa before Imperialism



  • African people were divided into hundreds of ethnic groups.

  • They spoke over 1,000 languages.

  • Followed traditional beliefs.

  • Largest empire had about 10 million people.

  • Rivers were difficult to navigate because of rapids and changing flows, difficult for Europeans to get to the interior of Africa.

2. Originally Europeans who did penetrate the interior of Africa were mostly explorers, missionaries, or humanitarians who opposed the slave trade.

3. What happened to the people in the Congo River Valley when King Leopold of Belgium established a colony there? They were brutally exploited, by forcing them to collect sap from rubber plants. They time required to do this interfered with the care of their own food crops.

4. What is imperialism? The takeover of a country or territory by a stronger nation with the intent of dominating the political, economic, and social life of the people of that nation.

5. How did the Industrial Revolution impact imperialism? They need more markets to sell their items and more materials to produce their items.

6. The race for colonies grew out of a strong sense of national pride as well as from economic competition.

7. Europeans believed that they had the right and duty to bring the results of their progress to other countries.

8. What four forces enabled imperialism?

a. European technological superiority, the Maxim gun (automatic machine gun)

b. Steam engine made travel upstream easier, railroads, cables, and steamers allowed close communications with a colony and with the controlling nation.

c. Quinine helped with malaria.

d. Africans’ huge variety of languages and culture discouraged unity among them. Wars fought between ethnic groups over land, water, and trade rights also prevented a unified stand.

9. What agreements were made at the Berlin Conference in 1884? They laid down rules for the division of Africa. They agreed that any European country could claim land in Africa by notifying other nations of their claims and showing they could control the area. No African ruler attended the meeting, yet the conference determined the fate of Africa.



10. Describe the three groups that clash over South Africa.

a. Zulu expansion—a large centralized state. Eventually the British took over.

b. Boers, Dutch settlers, gradually took over native Africans’ land and established large farms. British began to more into the area and the two groups of settlers clashed over the British policy regarding land and slaves. The Boers began to more north where they found themselves fighting with the Zulu and other African groups whose land they were taking.

c. Boer War—Boers took up arms against the British in 1899. British burned Boer farms and imprisoned women and children in disease ridden concentration camps. The British won the war. In 1902 the Boers were joined into a self-governing Union of South Africa, controlled by the British.


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