Scramble for Africa and the Berlin Conference

An examination of the history of the colonization of Africa in the late 1800s and the consequential Berlin Conference in 1884.

This paper briefly discusses the period of history known as the ‘scramble for Africa’ when European countries tried to colonize as much of Africa as possible in the late 1800s until the start of WWI. It looks at the political, social, and nationalistic reasons for this hype and, in turn, discusses the resulting need for the Berlin Conference in 1884-1885. It explains how this conference was necessary to make international ‘rules’ about colonization.
“The competition among the European nations to colonize Africa led to the Berlin Conference in 1884-1885. This was necessary because of the intense amount of treaty-making and colony-building by the competing European nations, and it became a three-month bargaining session among the 14 attending nations regarding who would gain control over what parts of Africa, without regard for the cultural boundaries already in place. The nations attending were Germany, Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden and Norway, Turkey and the United States. (Wikipedia) The main purposes of the conference became assuring nations access to major trade routes, suppressing the internal slave trade in Africa, banning the importation of firearms into Africa, and discussion of the occupation of territories. “The result of this conference was a treaty called the Treaty of Berlin. By 1900, almost 90% of Africa was under European control.” (Bergstrom)