British Empire Expansions and Imperial and Colonial Policy


Section 1 Expansion of the British Empire


Reasons for expanding:

v  Trade (cotton, ivory, copper)

v  Fertile lands for settlers

v  Natives do not have as developed weapons

v  Between Britain and India (trade routes

v  Prevent foreign imperialism

v  Power, competition

v  Religion and culture

v  Security of middle Eastern territories

v  Master Race concept (Social Darwinism)

v  Security to win wars (more men, land to fight on)

Scramble for Africa àEuropean powers racing to invade and colonize African territory from1881-1914

Between 1800-1900- 90% of Africa was occupied by European powers à Britain gained 5 million square metres of land

Prior to the ‘scramble’ Britain had little involvement with Africa

Personal Influence = would increase the influence of Britain while simultaneously decreasing the influence of other powers e.g. Germany and France

Commercial and Strategic Factors = African colonies were helpful naval bases on the way to Africa. Britain could exploit the colonies for cheap labour and materials. Taking over Africa assisted in the war

Moral Factors = In order to implement the British ideas of government and spread influence to ‘uncivilised’ people
Egypt and Suez Canal

Europe was in competition over Egypt as they did not have the power to fight back until 1805 when Mohamed Ali pushed them all out and formed an alliance with France.

v  Britain was worried about Ottoman (Turkish) powers in Egypt

v  PM Lord Palmerston declared that they did not want to take control of Egypt – just wanted to travel through

v  France also did not want Ottoman’s to have control of Egypt – poured money into Egypt in 1850 and bult Suez Canal

The Suez Canal is a sea level waterway in Egypt connecting Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea.

v  Competition with France

v  Shorter sea route to British Empire and oil fields in Persian Gulf

v  Dictates who can use it and who can not

v  Avoids pirates from the longer routes (protects produce)

v  Tariffs of taxes for use of canal

v  Make no losses as they did not pay to make the canal

Suez Canal – New Passage to India (saves a 6000 miles journey)

v  France had control over between 1854- 56

v  The rights granted gave the company (Universal Maritime Suez Canal Company) permission to run the canal for 99 years, the canal took 10 years to build and was completed by 1869. 

v  The canal was put up on the international market, but Britain was not interested

v  The canal was much more successful than Britain had expected as it immediately damaged their trade in the Cape

v  Conservative party members knew Britain needed a stake in the canal

v  By mid 1870s Ismail had put Egypt into debt so put more shares of the canal on sale

v  Disraeli (a British conservative party member) bought


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