In the beginning of 19th century, Europe had almost no land in Africa except for the coastal areas.
In the middle of the century however, Europe became quite interested in Africa. This came from wanting to create overseas empires, also known as imperialism. European nations wanted to control the lands with the most raw material to fuel their industrial economies. Another reason was that as a nation gained colonies it increased their greatness. The one major reason I believe they colonized Africa was racism, plain and simple they thought they were better than the Africans.And of course, christian missionaries were pro imperialism. They thought that imperialism would end the slave trade and would give them a chance to convert them. The result of these factors was Europe began to divide up Europe between the powers that be.
The fact that they were more technologically advanced help them succeed. The use of steam engines, railroads and telegraphs made it very easy to penetrate deep into Africa. The fact that they had machine guns made it very difficult for the Africans to resist. The discovery of quinine, a bark that treats malaria, proved to help immensely.The greatest factor to the advantage of the Europeans was that the Africans were severely divided.
These events began in the late 19th century. When the Europeans discovered diamonds and gold, it just made them all the more curious. To make sure Europe would not fight over the land they met in Berlin in 1884-1885.
They decided that to divide up the land they would claim it and show they had control over it. This is when everyone began grabbing the land. By 1914 the only free countries were Liberia and Ethiopia. Soon after the colonization, Europe began building plantations that grew products anywhere from peanuts to rubber.
They took tin and copper from the Congo, diamonds and gold from South Africa. In South Africa three major groups struggled for control of the land. In the early 19th century, Zulu chief Shaka fought for the land. At the same time, the British gained control of Dutch colonies on the southern coast. Thousands of Dutch settlers called Boers moved north to escape the British colonization.
They fought against Zulus, whose land they were taking. At the end of the 1800s, the Boers fought a horrible war against the British. They lost, and then joined the Union of South Africa. The Ottoman Empire had lasted for hundreds of years.By the 19th century it was weak. In 1830, Greece gained its independence and Serbia received the right to govern itself.
Russia hoped to gain control of the Black Sea so it could have access to the Mediterranean. They fought a war with the Ottomans in the 1850s, but lost when Britain and France joined in. By 1914, the Ottoman Empire was much smaller than it had ever been. Muslim leaders then decided to modernize their countries.
In Egypt, Muhammad Ah broke away from the Ottoman Turks control. He reformed the army and the economy. He encouraged Egypt’s farmers to grow cotton, a major cash crop in demand in Europe.
His grandson continued to modernize Egypt. He helped with the French in building the Suez Canal. When Egypt ran into money problems, Britain took control. In Iran, Russians and the British competed for control of the local powers.
Russia wanted to win Iran to have access to the Indian Ocean. Britain needed it as a barrier to keep Russia from invading India. In the early 1900s, oil was discovered in Iran (shocker). A British company agreed with Iran’s ruler to develop the immense oil fields. The Iranians rebelled against the ruler and the growing influence of Europeans. This is when Russia and Britain took control of the land.
In the early 18th Century, the Mughal Empire of India started to begin a downward descent. By the middle of the century, the British East India Company held huge amounts of land, almost the entire country. British law forced India to supply materials such as tea, indigo, and cotton. India became more important when the East India Company built rail lines linking growing regions in the middle of the country to the coast. India did have some benefits from British rule. It had the third largest rail system in the world.
The British built telephone and telegraph lines, dams, bridges, and canals. They also improved public health and built schools.Many more Indians learned to read. British rule caused a few problems as well. Many economic benefits flowed from India to Britain.
Indian industry died because of trade laws. Many farmers lost the ability to feed themselves because they were forced to grow cash crops. Many people died when famine struck. Also, British racist tendencies damaged Indian culture. By the middle of 19th century, many Indians felt hatred towards the British. When Indians heard rumors that offended their religion, they rebelled. The Indians lost due to their immense divisions. Plain and simple, Muslims and Hindus didn’t trust each other.
After the huge revolt, the British government took complete control of British India. Indians began thinking of other ways to resist British control. Leaders urged changes in traditional Indian customs to make Indian society modern. They hoped to set India free from foreign control with these changes. Indians hated how they were treated unfairly.
They formed two groups, the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League. Both groups pushed the British to make changes. In the early 20th century, they called for self-government. European nations wanted control of land in Southeast Asia.They wanted the area for its resources and its close proximity to China. The United States also joined this quest for colonies. The Dutch took control of Indonesia, where their settlers remained at the top of society.
The British took the port of Singapore, Malaysia and Myanmar. The British brought many Chinese to Malaysia because of the growing need for workers. France took Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam then known as Indochina. France forced its farmers to grow rice as an export. Since most of the rice was shipped away, the farmers had even less to eat even though there was even more rice being grown.Siam was able to stay independent. King Mongkut managed to modernize Siam without having to give up power.
Colonialism brought many features of modern life into these regions. At the same time, economic changes only benefited European run businesses, not the local peoples. On the plus side, the native people did benefit from receiving better schooling, health, and cleanliness. Plantation farming brought many new people from other regions into Southeast Asia.
The mix of cultures and religions however didn’t always go as planned. Even today, conflict between groups results from this period.