Africa before partition (1880)

Scramble for Africa

Partition of Africa (“Scramble for Africa”) was the occupation, division, and colonisation of African territory by European powers during the period of New Imperialism, between 1881 and 1914.  In 1870, only 10 percent of Africa was under European control, by 1914 it had increased to almost 90 percent of the continent, with only Ethiopia (Abyssinia), the Dervish state (present-day Somalia) and Liberia still being independent.

The Berlin Conference of 1884, which regulated European colonisation and trade in Africa, is usually referred to as the starting point of the partition of Africa. Consequent to the political and economic rivalries among the European empires in the last quarter of the 19th century, the partitioning, or splitting up of Africa was how the Europeans avoided warring amongst themselves over Africa. The later years of the 19th century saw the transition from “informal imperialism”, by military influence and economic dominance, to direct rule, bringing about colonial imperialism.

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