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What Was the Cause of the Rapid Partitioning of Africa Between 1860 and 1900?

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The rapid partitioning of Africa was the rush in which European countries such as Germany, Britain, Spain, Belgium, Italy, Portugal shared Africa and its lands during the European Imperialism period. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Imperialism is a policy of extending a country's power and influence through colonization, use of military force or other means.

The European Imperialism was the domination of other nations of the world such as; the West Indies, Asia, Latin America and Africa both economically and politically by European powers. Britain for example, who had always prided itself as one of the most powerful nations in Europe because of its military superiority, dominated India for years due to the fact that it was militarily and economically stronger.

In the early 1870's, Africa was mostly unknown to European countries because it meant little to them and only a small part was under European rule. Explorations in Africa, made due to curiosity as to 'what is in other parts of the world' and also missionary purposes, opened up the shores of Africa to many Europeans which ended up facilitating the interests of many European nations. These explorers such as; Dr David Livingstone, Sir Henry Stanley, Pierre-Paul-Francois-Camille Savorgnan de Brazza, Heinrich Barth, Sir Richard Burton, John Hanning Speke with all their expeditions in Africa contributed to the rapid partitioning of Africa by making known the desirability of Africa for economic purposes.

These explorations were made possible after the discovery of quinine at the back of a tree to fight against malaria that was killing most of them and also the technological advances in their transportation which could navigate Africa shores and waters. They demanded their countrymen to come and colonize Africa and also helped secure treaties with African local chiefs so as to gain control over the lands. An example is a speech Dr David Livingstone told about his expeditions saying that they went among the river tribes of Africa "as members of a superior race and servants of a Government that desires to elevate the more degraded portions of the human family". It was due to these explorers' researches and explorations that made European nations more aware of and interested in Africa.

Until 1870, most European countries were opposed to colonies because around 1820, several European countries with connections to colonies lost their connection without deteriorating under any economic deprivation. France for example, had lost most of her colonies in America and in East Asia by 1815, and Spain had also lost all of her vast territories in South America. Even Portugal had lost Brazil in 1822 and before that, Britain's thirteen colonies in America had broken away from it. By 1868, Bismarck who had always been opposed to colonial policies of other countries changed his opinion and had colonial aspirations for Germany.

With all the explorations, the extant map of Africa was redrawn and European nations discovered that Africa was filled with natural resources that couldn't be found any where in Europe. They saw Africa as being untapped and that it was capable of supplying their needed raw materials such as copper, tin, cocoa, gold, diamonds, palm oil, cotton, silk, vegetable oil and also rare minerals. The demand for these resources which were unavailable in Europe in which the European industry had grown very dependent upon induced European nations to decide in partitioning Africa so they can secure some of the African territories that will constantly supply raw materials to their industries in Europe. In as much as the partitioning and scrambling for Africa could be termed as mostly caused by economic reason, they were actually caused by several reason which can be considered under economic, political, social and military factors.

Economically, the needs of European capitalism were one of the main forces behind the expansion of imperialism which brought about a race for Africa between all the major European capitalist powers. It is well known that the nineteenth century went through a profound industrial revolution which led to a huge increase in productivity and it spread to most of the other European countries and even the United States. Development of trade, communication, transportation, fire arms rose up and most European countries were importing and exporting industrial goods all around the globe. Countries became rich due to their investments during this period while some countries weren't. The unevenness of national wealth created rivalry amongst European nations especially since Britain benefited tremendously both politically and economically. At this time, Britain had no allies and it was overtaken gradually by the United States, Germany and France. The Great Depression also fuelled the rivalry since Britain was really affected and became no more the most powerful but the weakest of the three countries. Due to the fact that France and Germany are also one of the biggest countries in Europe, Britain felt it needed to compete with its rivals and decided that by taking possession of Africa, and also by establishing colonies, it would make its country more powerful while giving it an edge over its rivals.

Due to the over production of goods during the industrial revolution, Europeans needed where they could dump and sell their surplus products since the rate of local consumption was still the same. They needed a balance of trade, a new market which will increase their income since their other income from overseas investment was already getting offset. Africa didn't have industries to produce goods like Europe, so it provided them an open market that would increase their trade surplus, a market in which Africa bought more from the Europeans more than it sold. These investment and open trade increased Europe's capital due to the fact that they had monopoly over the trading system, cheap labor and also abundant raw materials. Britain for example, benefited more from this market since it was kept out of red due to its capital investment outside Europe. The Europeans search for a new outlet for a lucrative and very secure investment had a great part in their urge to acquire and partition Africa.

The industrial revolution also caused an increase in the population of Europe and loss of jobs since Europe had started using machine for their factory works. This resulted in a surplus of unemployed Europeans and it decided to acquire colonies to settle its unemployed population, where its people would both be employed and also protecting interests. The pressure of the population within Europe was so great that there was excessive demand for new colonies to settle.

Socially, besides the economic reasons for the scramble and partition



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