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Essay On The Berlin Conference Of 1884-1885

The Berlin Conference of 1884–1885 marked the climax of the European competition for territory in Africa, a process commonly known as the Scramble for Africa. During the 1870s and early 1880s European nations such as Great Britain, France, and Germany began looking to Africa for natural resources for their growing industrial sectors as well as a potential market for the goods these factories produced. As a result, these governments sought to safeguard their commercial interests in Africa and began sending scouts to the continent to secure treaties from indigenous peoples or their supposed representatives. Similarly, Belgium’s King Leopold II, who aspired to increase his personal wealth by acquiring African territory, hired agents to lay claim to vast tracts of land in central Africa. To protect Germany’s commercial interests, German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, who was otherwise uninterested in Africa, felt compelled to stake claims to African land.

Inevitably, the scramble for territory led to conflict among European powers, particularly between the British and French in West Africa; Egypt, the Portuguese, and British in East Africa; and the French and King Leopold II in central Africa. Rivalry between Great Britain and France led Bismarck to intervene, and in late 1884 he called a meeting of European powers in Berlin. In the subsequent meetings, Great Britain, France, Germany, Portugal, and King Leopold II negotiated their claims to African territory, which were then formalized and mapped. During the conference the leaders also agreed to allow free trade among the colonies and established a framework for negotiating future European claims in Africa. Neither the Berlin Conference itself nor the framework for future negotiations provided any say for the peoples of Africa over the partitioning of their homelands.

The Berlin Conference did not initiate European colonization of Africa, but it did legitimate and formalize the process. In addition, it sparked new interest in Africa. Following the close of the conference, European powers expanded their claims in Africa such that by 1900, European states had claimed nearly 90 percent of African territory.

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The Berlin Conference of 1884 peacefully divided Africa between world leaders. The conference, also known as the Congo Conference, looked at Africa as a great source of wealth in many areas to be shared among the participating countries. The division that took place at no time had at interest the people of Africa. By the time Africa regained its freedom in the 1950’s most areas had developed severe political and racial division. The result of this turbulence and division is the occurrence of such violent civil wars and genocides in African countries such as Rwanda. The Berlin Conference was started in 1884 by German Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck and lasted through February of 1885. It was designed to assist the European countries in…show more content…

They thought it an obvious choice for the Conference attendees to obtain their own part of Africa as it would provide them access to important resources in all areas that would enhance their living. The conference was attended by 14 countries which included; Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Great Britain, Russia, Spain, Turkey, United States of America, and Sweden-Norway, however, no African was present to represent the interest of their country. The countries had experienced much bloodshed and loss during the past 400 years due to the capturing of slaves from Africa. They did not want to repeat this while dividing the African territory and negotiating trade agreements of its natural materials, so they designed this conference to avoid it. “ The initial purpose of the meeting was to guarantee free trade and navigation in the Congo, while the lower Niger River and its basins would be considered neutral and open to trade” (Korieh 1). The Europeans entered into Africa thinking that they would not affect the native Africans, promising to do their best for their country as well as the African people. “All the powers exercising sovereign rights or influence in the aforesaid

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