July 12, 2020

    The German Chancellor (political leader or First minister) called a conference in Berlin in 1884. The stated aim of the conference was to see how the assembled European nations could ‘help’ the continent of Africa, but this was a façade.

    Also known as ‘The Scramble for Africa’, the real purpose of the conference was for the European nations to decide how they would divide and despoil the land mass of Africa, and who would regulate and control trade in each region of the continent. The conference’s secondary purpose was to prevent the European countries warring with each other over territory on the continent. By consent, they agreed (at the time) to honour the carving up of the land that took place.

    This was the continuation of a process that began in 1881 (and ended in 1914). Nations in attendance at the conference were the Austria-Hungary State, Germany, Belgium, France the United Kingdom, Spain, the United States, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, the Sweden-Norway state, the Ottoman Empire and Denmark. Between them, they decided how they would occupy the continent of Africa and divide up the land between themselves.

    The region of the continent below the Sahara Desert in particular was resource rich, had not been colonized and the Europeans set their sights on the relatively cheap or indeed free labour that they could obtain by bullying and massacring the indigenous people. Copper, Tin, Gold, Diamonds, Pepper, Ivory and Tea could be mined, obtained and grown at a relatively low cost for a high yield of profit. This was at a period of time when there was an economic depression across Europe (1873 to 1896) and the crumbling economies of the colonizers required shoring up.

    By 1914, around 90% of the continent was under European rule with modern day Ethiopia, Liberia and Somalia remaining free from colonial tyranny.

    • Sources: World Atlas
    • Updated: June 2020
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