What Attracted European Imperialism To Africa & To Asia In The Late Nineteenth Century

1641 words - 7 pages

Mortimer Chambers et al define imperialism as a European state's intervention in and continuing domination over a non-European territory. During the 'Scramble for Africa' in the late nineteenth century, the most powerful European nations desired to conquer, dominate and exploit African colonies with the hope of building an empire. According to Derrick Murphy, in 1875 only ten percent of Africa was occupied by European states. Twenty years later only ten percent remained unoccupied. There were several factors which attracted European imperialists to Africa. There were opportunities for profitable investment and trade. Raw materials, which Africa possessed in abundance, were also desired. A ...view middle of the document...

A. Hobson, argues that the intention was to level out inequalities of wealth to increase domestic consumption. Local merchants, traders and bankers were optimistic towards the idea of imperial expansion and capital investments outside of Europe became an increasingly vital sector of its economy.There was an increasing demand for raw materials in Europe in the late nineteenth century. According to Brian Levack, the new technologies characteristic of the industrial revolution meant that industrial Europe became increasingly dependent on raw materials. European nations felt the urge to control lands that possessed great quantities of raw materials. Africa was rich with raw materials as well as many treasure reserves. As a result, many major industrial companies attempted to gain a monopoly of raw materials in Africa. Stuart Miller believes that specific trade links were important to particular industries. Some raw materials in Africa were of great importance; the vegetable oil of the Niger was vital for lubricating industrial machinery and the rubber of the Congo was not only essential for the tires on the new automobiles but also for insulating the electrical and telegraph wires now encircling the globe. The plentiful elephant herds could be slaughtered to provide the ivory for many of the new consumer goods such as piano keys, billiard balls and knife handles. In Togoland, Germans were able to cultivate plantations where they grew cocoa and rubber. Other raw materials included peanuts, cotton and tea. There were also many important minerals and South Africa possessed gold and diamonds.International rivalry among European nations contributed greatly to imperialist ventures in Africa. Britain's rivalry with France and Germany accounted for a large part of the colonization. The British government wished to maintain its dominance in the colonial regions. Other European powers desired to expand their colonial spheres as well and Britain responded by seizing colonies. Certain territories were important for their location. The Suez Canal was key waterway between East and West Africa. The immense interior between the gold and diamond rich Southern Africa and Egypt had a strategic value as domination of this region was important to secure the flow of overseas trade. The British wanted to link their possessions in Southern Africa with their territories in East Africa, and these two areas with the Nile basin. Obtaining the Sudan was vital to the fulfillment of these ambitions especially since Egypt was already under British control. This 'red-line' through Africa was made famous by Cecil Rhodes and Lord Milner who advocated for a 'Cape to Cairo' empire linking by rail the Suez Canal to the Southern part which possessed many minerals. According to Brian Levack, there was also a certain level of nationalist competition. The unification of Germany upset the balance of power in Europe. In this climate of tension, governments looked towards enforcing national...

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