Imperialism in africa

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a map of africa under imperialism divisions

As the world approached the 20th century, several powers grew desperate for more land and more control. In the 1870s, the Belgian King Leopold sent emissaries to establish trade with native Africans in the Congo. This single act began a flurry of imperialistic activity (one country controlling another) including other nations of Europe, such as: France, Great Britain, Germany, Spain, Germany, Italy, and Portugal. This immediate fight for land is known as... THE SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA!

Between 1450 and 1750 Europeans traded with Africa, but they set up very few colonies. By 1850, only a few colonies existed along African coastlines, such as Algeria (French), the Cape Colony (Great Britain,) and Angola (Portugal). Instead, free African states continued, and after the end of the slave trade in the early 1800s, a lively exchange took place between Europeans and African states, such as the Sokoto Caliphate in western Africa and Egypt and Ethiopia in northeast Africa. They traded manufactured goods for gold, ivory, palm oil (a substance used in soap, candles, and lubricants). Under the leadership of Muhammad Ali¸ and his grandson Ismail¸ Egypt grew to be the strongest Muslim state of the 19th century, producing cotton for export and employing western technology and business methods. They benefited from the American Civil War, when cotton shipments from the southern U.S. were cut off, but the Egyptian cotton market collapsed after American shipments resumed after the Civil War was over.

In the latter half of the 19th century, dramatic changes occurred, as Europeans began to explore Africa's interior, and by 1914, virtually the entire continent was colonized by one or the other of the competing European countries. European imperialists built on the information provided by adventurers and missionaries, especially the famous Dr. David Livingstone and Henry Stanley. Livingstone, a Scottish missionary, went to Africa in the 1840s and spent three decades exploring the interior of Africa and setting up missionary outposts all the way from central Africa to the Cape Colony on the southern tip. When people in Britain lost contact with Livingstone, journalist Henry Stanley became a news sensation when he traveled to Africa and found Livingstone. The two sparked interest in Africa and others followed, including the imperialists.

The Berlin Conference of 1884-5, in an effort to avoid war, allowed European diplomats to draw lines on maps and carve Africa into colonies. European countries divided Africa without ANY input from the African people. The result was a transformation of political and economic Africa, with virtually all parts of the continent colonized by 1900. Europeans took control and many abuses of African natives took place.

What were the Europeans looking for?

The Struggle for Freedom: How the African Nations Fought Back

As the European powers continued to invade and interfere with African land and culture, several of the Africans became extremely frustrated and upset. Various individuals began to lead independence movements and inspired several others to join in the fight for freedom. Many colonies would last until the end of WWII.

African countries succeeded in gaining freedom but most of them still deal with problems. Africa has an abundant amount of natural resources but the majority of the continent is still underdeveloped and living in poverty.

Lasting effects of Imperialism

Many of the companies that extract valuable resources from Africa are still owned by Europeans.

For example: DeBeer’s is the world’s largest producer of diamonds and their largest mines are in South Africa. They are owned by a British family. Also, many countries borders are the same as the ones the Europeans drew for them. This means they have divided ethnic groups of people

Answer on your own paper in complete sentences:

  1. What is the main idea of this article?

  2. What is imperialism?

  3. Why do you think there was such demand for African land?

  4. Why would colonialism not economically benefit Africa?

  5. The Berlin Conference country boundary divisions did not take any input from the African people. How do you think this would create conflict for the people living in Africa?


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