Scramble For Africa
One of the greatest stories of colonization is that of the “Scramble for Africa” also known as the Partition of Africa and the Conquest of Africa. The Scramble for Africa is the invasion, occupation, division, colonization and annexation of African territory by the Europeans during 1881 – 1914.
In 1870, only 10 percent of Africa was under European control; After the creation of a unified Germany (1871) and Italy relocated its capital to Rome (1871) there was no room left in Europe for expansion. Britain, France and Germany were in complicated political situations trying to maintain their dominance, and secure their empire. France, which had lost two provinces to Germany in 1870, looked to Africa to gain more territory. Britain looked towards Egypt and the control of the Suez Canal as well as pursuing territory in Southern Africa.
At the beginning of the 1880s only a small part of Africa was under European control and that area of control was restricted to the coastline and a short distance inland, along the Niger and Congo River. But very rapidly, European nations began claiming territory in Africa.
By 1914 European control in Africa had increased to 90 percent, with only Ethiopia and Liberia still being independent.
The Berlin Conference aka West Africa Conference was the Meeting held Nov. 15, 1884–Feb. 26, 1885 at which the major European powers negotiated and formalized claims to territory in Africa.
Prior to the Berlin Conference, European diplomacy had trading relationships with the African indigenous chiefs.
“Military Innovation” played a major factor in the European conquering Africa. With the invention of “percussion caps” and the “breach loading rifle”, the European had access to weapons that fired three times faster than the old “front loading musket”. Europeans, seeking to colonize and conquest, prohibited the sale of the new weaponry to Africa, which help them maintain military superiority.