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Motives for British Imperialism in Africa Essays

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Motives for British Imperialism in Africa


Before the Europeans began the New Imperialism in Africa, very little was known about the inner parts of the continent. However, after some explorers delved deeper into the heart of Africa, the Europeans soon realized how economically important this area was, and how much they could profit from it. At the time, Britain had only small occupations of land in Africa, but after they realized that they could make money from the rich resources from the inner regions of Africa, they wanted to invade the African countries and take over. This led to the scramble and ultimately, the partition of Africa. During the Age of Imperialism, from 1870-1914, Britain was a major country, which proved to be true in the “carving up” and division of Africa. Britain was one of the strongest of the European countries, and had the power to take over much of the most valuable lands with the most rich and abundant supplies of raw materials and other resources. There were five main reasons for their imperialism. They were political and military interests, humanitarian and religious goals, ideological, exploratory, and lastly, but most importantly, economic interests.

As for the political reasons, Britain simply wanted to remain competitive with other countries, such as Germany and France. At the time, the British had no allies, and the other countries such as France and Germany, were getting economically more stable. By taking over Africa, and setting up colonies, they would have allies and a sense of protection. Germany and France were also some of the bigger powers in Europe, and the British feared them because they needed to keep up with the competition of their rival countries. They were pretty much forced to practice imperialism because of the growing threat of Germany and France. The British continued to be imperialists until the beginning of World War 1, in 1914, because they feared that they might lose their empire. They conquered and added on many parts of Africa, such as Egypt, South Africa, Nigeria, the Suez Canal, etc… In most cases, the reasons for this was that were able to colonize these people and gain alliances with them and also to send out the message to other countries that they were still competitive. One prime example of this, was how Britain bought the Suez Canal into their own power. Fredinand de Lesseps, a Frenc...


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...e from India. That was the underlying tenet of all British imperialism.

Throughout history, the British have been a nation of sailors and businessmen. With the dawn of the imperial era, money began to equal power, and the wealth of the British elevated them to the top of the world. As Sir Walter Raleigh said,
"Whosoever commands the sea commands the trade; whosoever commands the trade of the world commands the riches of the world, and consequently the world itself."

India was where the riches of the world came from, the jewel in the crown of the British Empire. The British needed to dispel the threat of other Europeans in Africa to maintain control of India, and they did so efficiently. They quickly gained control of both the major sea routes to India and then turned their eyes to the rest of the continent. Whether the British were trying to foster public support or prevent another nation from becoming a threat, all British actions in Africa were directly or indirectly linked to India. The British were motivated by their desire to become powerful, and they skillfully combined enterprise and conquest to create a globe spanning empire centered around the wealth of India.



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