Imperialism - Scramble for Africa + Berlin Conference

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The Scramble for Africa and the
Berlin Conference
What was the Scramble for Africa?
The Scramble for Africa was the colonisation and annexation of African territory
by European powers that took part during the end of the 19th century. In 1871,
only 10% of Europe was under European control, however, by the 1900s
90% of the continent was under colonial rule.
What were the causes of the Scramble for Africa?
1. Strategic factors: One of the main causes which historians argued triggered the
Scramble for Africa was Britain's strategic motives in colonising Egypt in order to
protect its trade routes with India. After gaining control of Cape Colony in South Africa,
Britain established the Suez Canal, which linked the Mediterranean and Red Sea across
Egyptian territory, making trade with India much more efficient. Therefore, after
instability in Egypt's government posed a threat to this route, Britain took
administration of Egypt in 1882 to have control over the canal, and this arguably
triggered the new imperialism of the latter half of the 19th century.
2. Medical Advancement: Before the Scramble, Africa was associated as the "white
man's grave", due to its deadly diseases such as Malaria, this ultimately restricted
European interest in the country, as they viewed it as too dangerous. However, after
1817 with French discoveries of effective treatment for such diseases such worries
began to cease and countless expeditions began to try and remove other myths
associated with the country.
3. Industrial revolution: The industrial revolution meant that countries were experiencing
a rapid increase in production of manufactured goods and therefore there was an
ever-increasing need for raw materials to add such development. Africa with its rich
resources such as gold, iron, cocoa beans and rubber provided these much-needed
resources and due to its rivers ­ the Congo, Zambezi and Niger transportation and
access into the interior of Africa made this exploitation easier.
4. Nationalism: To report acquisition of new land and expand empires was seen to
enhance the prestige of the state gaining national pride back home.
5. Technological developments: Before the 1870s African rivers were hard to navigate,
making access into Africa difficult. However, after the creation of the steam boats,
effective navigation of rivers was now easy and nations could enter the country. As
well as steam boats, improved weaponry, such as the introduction of the maxim gun in
1883 meant that Europeans had an advantage over the poorly equipped Africans,
making them an easy target who could produce little resistance.
6. Abolition of the Slave trade: Before the scramble, slavery was a popular thing, with
Africans being taken either by bartering or simple capturing and shipped to the USA
where they would be exploited and forced to work as slaves. However, by 1871 slavery
had been abolished, denying the slave trade of huge profits, therefore, these wealthy
businessmen sought after different trades with Africa to make up for their losses.

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A sense of duty and superiority (white man's burden + Darwinism): Europeans were
convinced of their racial and cultural superiority and believed it was their
responsibility to civilise the "uncivilised" African people by introducing Christianity,
order and stability. As Africa was less developed than Europeans, they believed it was
their duty to bring results of their progress to other countries, however, this was
merely a justification for them to invade Africa ­ in reality their motives were all of
self-interest, characterised by exploitation.
8.…read more

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Effects of the Scramble for Africa:
Positives Negatives
Developed states with efficient Africans were seen as inferior and experienced
systems of administration, racial inequality
government and democracy Europeans exploited Africa for their own
Provided education for natives development, halting African progress
Provided health care and hospitals African culture undermined with introduction
Improved transport links ­ roads of western ideologies, morals, religion,
and railways clothing, buildings etc.…read more

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The Fashoda incident occurred in 1898 when France and Britain crossed paths in Sudan.
France was expanding east, while Britain was expanding southwards towards Cape Colony
to establish trade links, when these two crossed paths in Fashoda, Sudan. Disputes arose
from the common desire to annex the land and war between the two seemed likely, as
they both were determined to fulfil their expansionist ambitions.…read more


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