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The Impact of European Imperialism in Africa

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During the 19th century, Britain had a huge empire, extending throughout the world. Up until 1869, Britain only controlled very little land in Africa. Their main focus was to develop imperialism in their more profitable places. These places gained opportunity for increase in their economy.

The main reason the British practiced imperialism in Africa was to bring forth Christianity and many European civilizations to African countries. Britain's economy fed on trade, and they did not want the West Coast of Africa for its palm oil. They believed it was too unstable for good commerce without their control. Their main objective was to protect their high paying countries: India and the Caribbean. Since the slave trade in the 1830s, Africa didn't impress the British. But the Britain's imperialism in Africa changed dramatically, and for many reasons.

The main reason the British annexed land in Africa was to prevent invaders from getting to India. In 1869, the French completed the Suez Canal, which was a quick route to India. If other countries were to seize control of the canal, the possibilities rose that they would cut Britain off, and seize India for themselves.

Just like the Suez Canal, the northern tip of Africa appears profitable. The canal is not the reason the British flocked to the tip, it was the possibility of fortune. Diamonds have been discovered in what is now modern day Kimberley. During 1877, the British annexed Transvaal, which was the home to many Boers. The Boers attacked several of the Britain's, showing no mercy to anyone on their way. They revolted in 1881, which led them to a victory over the British. The Boers were back in control, until further greed got the best of the British. But instead of diamonds, this time Britain's were chasing after gold. The Boers sought desperately to keep the British out of their home. They soon steered them away by oppressing British fortune seekers.

The British also annexed South Africa in 1877. Their motive was the fear of losing India to another country. They did not care for losing South Africa, for there was nothing but Boers and Zulus everywhere. But when diamonds and gold were discovered in 1870, the British came running. They then decided to annex South Africa to protect another route to India.

Another reason for Britain's interest in Africa was survival. The British had very little competition before the 1870's, Germany and Italy were not unified, the French were in a battle with the Prussians, and the revolutions of 1848 created internal instability in the remaining European countries. In 1871, Germany and Italy were unified and France had just lost Alsaca Lorraine to the Germans during the Franco-Prussian war. The Germans were encouraging them to look for colonies in Africa to regain national pride.

To help encourage the French, Bismarck began some imperialism in Africa themselves. The French quickly caught on. The British couldn't believe it, they now had competition!

The British were soon sucked into Egypt against their will. They were obliged to defend the canal that



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