Scramble for Africa

Areas of Africa controlled by European colonial powers in 1913, shown along with current national boundaries.

The Scramble for Africa was the occupation, division, and colonization of African territory by European powers during the period of New Imperialism, between 1881 and 1914. It is also called the Partition of Africa and by some the Conquest of Africa. In 1870, only 10 percent of Africa was under formal European control; by 1914 it had increased to almost 90 percent of the continent, with only Ethiopia (Abyssinia) and Liberia still being independent. There were multiple motivations including the quest for national prestige, tensions between pairs of European powers, religious missionary zeal[citation needed] and internal African native politics.

The Berlin Conference of 1884, which regulated European colonisation and trade in Africa, is usually referred to as the ultimate point of the scramble for Africa.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3]


David Livingstone, early explorer of the interior of Africa and fighter against the slave trade

By 1840 European powers had established small trading posts along the coast, but seldom moved inland.[4] In the middle decades of the 19th century, European explorers had mapped areas of East Africa and Central Africa.

Even as late as the 1870s, European states still controlled only ten percent of the African continent, with all their territories located near the coast. The most important holdings were Angola and Mozambique, held by Portugal; the Cape Colony, held by the United Kingdom; and Algeria, held by France. By 1914, only Ethiopia and Liberia remained independent of European control.[5]

Technological advances facilitated European expansion overseas. Industrialisation brought about rapid advancements in transportation and communication, especially in the forms of steamships, railways and telegraphs. Medical advances also played an important role, especially medicines for tropical diseases. The development of quinine, an effective treatment for malaria, made vast expanses of the tropics more accessible for Europeans.

Other Languages
aragonés: Reparto d'Africa
čeština: Dělení Afriky
hrvatski: Utrka za Afriku
Bahasa Indonesia: Perebutan Afrika
Lingua Franca Nova: Scaramuxa per Africa
Bahasa Melayu: Perebutan Afrika
Nederlands: Wedloop om Afrika
norsk nynorsk: Kappløpet om Afrika
Simple English: Scramble for Africa
српски / srpski: Osvajanje Afrike
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Utrka za Afriku
Türkçe: Afrika Talanı
Tiếng Việt: Tranh giành châu Phi
中文: 瓜分非洲