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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 as the other nations of Europe, including: France, Great Britain, Germany, Spain, Germany, Italy, and Portugal. This immediate fight for land is known as.
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. The result was a transformation of political and economic Africa, with virtually all parts of the continent colonized by 1900.
As the European powers continued to invade and interfere with African land and culture, several of the Africans became extremely frustrated and upset. Various individiuals began to lead independence movements and inspired several others to join in the fight for freedom. The information on this topic is likely to be found in the 1914-Present website.
Research Data Base Website for African Imperialism
Provides a various list of resources that relate to imperialism pre-WWI.
Imperialism Resources(India, Africa, and Asia)
Contains a list of links that will lead you to sites overflowing with information on the imperialism in Africa.
Different Perspectives on Imperialism in Africa
Consists of several different essays written by students who each took a different stand on the imperialism events in Africa.
"Pink Monkey" Online Study Guide
Provides key information on the countries to each European power gained control of and descriptions of important events like the Boer Wars.
This Smithsonian Natural History Website provides an overview of the lives of Africans and the struggles they had to go through, including European imperialism.
Why do you think there was such demand for African land?
Which nations do you think were most fought over among the European powers?
Does this act of imperialism relate to any other acts in world history?