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Why did continental countries engage in a "Scramble for Africa" in the later nineteenth century

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Why did continental countries engage in a "Scramble for Africa" in the later nineteenth century? From about 1870-1905, also known as the 'Era of Empire for Empire's Sake', 'The Great Adventure' and 'The Scramble for Africa', European nations began what is called 'New Imperialism' today. During this age, almost 23,000,000 km� of territory was acquired. Colonialism was widespread in Southeast Asia and the East Asia seaboard, but Africa was still ultimately the target of imperialist expansion. It is rather apparent that these European nations, primarily Britain, France, Germany and Italy, embarked on a foreign policy of expansionism due to mainly economic, reactionary and humanitarian reasons. However, the debate here is which is the most important reason. The European nations wanted colonies for economic development. Medical advancement in the 18th century reduced mortality rates and lengthened life expectancies. ...read more.


Hence, to ensure living standards continually improve and not decline, new territories were necessary to establish new trade lines, so as to import and export more goods. The western powers were concerned about their rivals becoming more economically powerful than they were and feared this would upset the balance of power in Europe. Others would eventually own available territories they realised if they were not quick to do so. Besides, securing vital waterways (e.g. Suez Canal) was crucial in smoothing the flow of overseas trade, which had become of paramount importance to the survival of the economies of the European nations. Under intense political pressure, mainly from the supporters of the Conservative Party, Britain became the first to enter the 'race for colonies' and secured abundant economic and military benefits. Nations such as France, Germany and Italy believed that they too could enjoy equally substantial, or even greater benefits and therefore, began scrambling for colonies, especially in Africa. ...read more.


While the Belgians were the main perpetuators of the ill-treatment of African workers, the Dutch were commonly associated with the Cultivation System they implemented in Indonesia, which saw the Javanese being forced to grow cash crops for export purposes. Why do the European nations strive to better their economies? Why do they fear that their rivals would become more powerful than they would Everything boils down to the issue of 'international prestige'. One would stand in awe of a nation with a flourishing economy, vast sphere of political influence, and a powerful army. The expansion of the French colonial empire was also seen as a method of 'rejuvenating' the country after its humiliating defeat in the Franco-Prussian War (1870). Italy, after its unification in 1870, sought to become a great power and thus, began to scramble for colonies. Thus, to conclude, the desire for international prestige is the fundamental reason of imperialism. ...read more.

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