In 1875, the two most important African colonies belonged to France and Britain. The French territory was Algeria while the British territory was Cape Verde. This economic and political influence led to a colonial struggle between the two European countries. Britain tried to stay out of the initial fighting, seeking to become a commercial power rather than a colonial power. It soon became clear, however, that Britain would have to get involved in the African wars to maintain its position.

As French, Belgian and Portuguese activity increased along the lower Congo, so did the danger that would lead to armed confrontation. The Berlin Conference of 1884-1885 sought to prevent potential conflict between the great powers by declaring that countries could have territorial claims. The stationing of permanent armies in the colonies was unavoidable.

The occupation of Egypt in 1882 contributed to the creation of a security control area in the Nile Valley, which later led to the occupation of neighbouring Sudan in 1896 and the clash with the French army in Fasod in 1898.

By 1902, Britain had completely occupied what is now the Republic of South Africa. First the Cape of Good Hope fell into British hands in 1795, then the Kingdom of Zulu in 1878. The First Boer War (1880-1881) was unsuccessful, but the Boer Republics were finally annexed in the Second Boer War (1899).

Cecil Rhodes was a leading figure in British expansion northwards, seeking to exploit the newly acquired territories through the privately owned British South Africa Company. Rhodes’s dream of a trans-African railway was the main reason for continuing the expansion in Africa. This railway would have covered the whole of British Africa.

In 1903, the All Red Line telegraph system was completed to provide communication between the main areas of the empire.

By 1914, Britain, the greatest pioneer of free trade, not only had the largest overseas colony but was also the winner in the struggle to conquer Africa. Between 1885 and 1914, Britain controlled almost 30% of Africa’s population.

VOCABULARY

struggle – küzdelem

initial – kezdeti

confrontation – összeütűzés

declare – jogi úton kijelent

territorial claim – területi követelés

unavoidable – elkerülhetetlen

occupation – területfoglalás

annex – hozzácsato

overseas – tengerentúlil

conquer – meghódít

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