Scramble for Africa.



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Scramble for Africa.

Culture générale

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Publié le : 20/8/2013 -Format: Document en format HTML protégé

Scramble for Africa.
Scramble for Africa.


Scramble for Africa, phrase used to describe the sometimes frenzied claiming of African territory by half a dozen European countries that resulted in nearly all of Africa
becoming part of Europe's colonial empires. The Scramble began slowly in the 1870s, reached its peak in the late 1880s and 1890s, and tapered off over the first
decade of the 20th century. Between 1885 and 1900, European powers were, at times, racing each other to stake claims in Africa. Most Africans resisted being taken
over and ruled by foreigners. Thus, much of the latter part of the Scramble involved European armies using modern weapons to crush opposition and install authority
over the continent's inhabitants.
By the mid-19th century Europeans had only claimed selected areas of Africa, mainly along the coasts. High death rates from malaria and yellow fever kept Europeans
from bringing armies and conquering large areas of Africa; nor were they inclined to do so in this period. Aware of the cost of maintaining colonies, the most powerful
European nations preferred either to keep trade open to all, relying on their commercial advantage, or to reserve small, productive areas for the trade of their own
citizens. Britain possessed its Cape Colony, strategically located at the southern tip of Africa. It also protected a few West African commercial enclaves and held a colony
of Sierra Leone, which was populated by descendants of slaves rescued from the Atlantic slave trade. France had annexed Algeria in 1834 and protected trade along the
Sénégal River and at two ports east of the Gold Coast (present-day Ghana). It also held an outpost at Gabon in west central Africa. Portugal claimed territory in Angola
and Mozambique. The foreign power with the largest African territory was the weakening Ottoman Empire, which clung to lands bordering the Mediterranean Sea from
Tunisia through Egypt, up the Nile, and down the west coast of the Red Sea.
Still, through the 1870s Africans controlled 90 percent of the continent. The largest African states were Muslim--the growing Mahdist state of the Sudan, the Mandinka
state of Samory Touré and the Tukolor Empire along the upper Niger River, and the Sokoto caliphate east of the middle Niger. East Africa was dominated by the slave
and ivory trade, with the Swahili-Arab sultanate of Zanzibar competing with African warlords well into the interior. Beyond British-controlled areas in southern Africa
were several African states and two republics of the Afrikaners (descendants of 17th-century Dutch settlers).
On the eve of the Scramble, Western Europe was a century into the Industrial Revolution and clearly the most powerful and technologically advanced portion of the
globe. Firearm, transportation, and communications technologies were developing at an astonishing pace, and national pride was growing in each European country.
Furthermore, advances in medicine enabled Europeans to spend longer periods in the tropics free of illness. Industrial production was reaching such high levels that
Europeans worried about over-production and finding consumers for all the goods that European industries were turning out. An economic downturn in the early 1870s
brought some Europeans to look toward the nonindustrial world. They viewed these countries as both markets for their products and as suppliers of natural resources to
fuel the industries. In addition, the strongest European countries began fearing what would happen to the balance of power if their rivals acquired colonies in Africa.
National pride was at stake. So was Christianity: famous Scottish missionary/explorer David Livingstone had whet the public appetite for a Christian "civilizing" mission in
this continent full of non-Christians and torn by slave trading. Livingstone's death in the wilds of Africa in 1873 called attention again to the cause.
All of this resulted in the Scramble for Africa. It began with slow territorial acquisition throug...

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