Europeans wanted the land because with land came various opportunities. Europeans wanted to spread the beliefs of Christianity. They also wanted to get slaves and free labor from the people of Africa. Another reason was to build resting ports to make trade to Asia easier and more efficient. European countries wanted to conquer Africa in order to meet the high demand for valuables such as gold and diamonds.
There were many reasons for the European countries to be competing against each other to gain colonies in Africa. One of the main reasons was that the Europeans believed that the more territory a country was able to control, the more powerful it could become and the more powerful it would be seen as by other countries. Other reasons for the desire to control African land included the many natural resources that could only be found in Africa, such as diamonds, gold, and as time progressed, rubber. It also provided new markets in surrounding places so that manufactured goods could be sold for a larger profit. The Europeans had many motives for imperialism in Africa.
These vying countries were interested in the control of waterways and trade routes as well as for future usage for example free trade. These world powers set up industries within their colonies to boost profits and inevitably made industrialization of the colonies grow immensely. Exportation of raw materials pushed for conquest yet caused poverty onto the African land. Colonialism was seen as a monopoly ideology, a prominent necessity and enhancer to the “mother country”. Some may argue this was even seen as a later sense of mercantilism but as well as early capitalistic views.
Because of the need for resources Africa could supply, the European desire for power, and the European's reaction to the White Man's burden, they took control of almost every square mile in Africa through imperialization. One of the main reasons Europeans colonized Africa was for their useful resources. There are countless assets in the African landscape that were wanted by other nations. The European countries had access to some of the worlds most needed resources such as cotton, oils, coal, gold, and diamonds because they controlled Africa. This is shown on a chart of African colonies and their exports.
The second relates to the social aspect of imperialism and the natural desire to rule others. The third is protection and security, building up military powers around the world in order to help the main country when trouble erupts. Finally, the last is morals and their religious aspects. Because imperialism has its basis on power, it is often considered morally reprehensible. The thirst for power drove the European nations into a frenzy to control the continent based solely on the false belief that they were superior, thereby inflicting numerous evils upon both the African land and its people.
Feelings of nationalism itensified throughout Europe during the nineteenth century. Nationalism in the extreme promotes the idea of national superiority. Industrialized countries therefore felt they had the right to take control of weaker areas. Countries also tried to increase their power through the control of more land and people. Economic causes also led to imperialism.
Changes in the British society in the 19th century, such as the industrial revolution and the transition of Britain’s slave trade to abolitionism affected Britain’s manner of colonization. Britain’s new industry demanded the production of raw material outside of Europe. Thus, causing Britain to once again turn to colonization in order to benefit their society. As Britain expanded its’ rule, it was able regulate the production and exportation of “Wheat from the American Midwest and southern Russia, meat from Argentina, bananas from Central America, rubber from Brazil, cocoa and palm oil from west Africa, tea from Ceylon, and gold and diamonds from South Africa.” However, the British demand of agricultural and raw goods conflicted with the abolition of slavery. Because, colonies were still responsible for exporting goods in order to feed the British industry, slavery continued despite the abolition movement.
When the European countries and empires, such as the Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire, interest in Africa increased, they began to impose their rule on Africa. Europeans saw an opportunity for personal benefits in Africa because of its plethora of natural resources. These empires practiced mercantilism. European nations were the mother countries of Africa. The Europeans would use the colony for natural recourses and once these resources were obtained they would produce goods to sell back to the colonies.
Great Britain wanted to spread its culture and religion (Butler). As a result, Christianity was dispersed imperialized countries under the name of Great Britain. Another major reason Great Britain imperialized in Africa was because other European countries that were participating in the “Scramble for Africa” (Berard). This was the time period where certain European countries fought over what countries in Africa to imperialize. Britain wanted more power, and therefore, more land as well.
Imperialism became popular in the 18th century as Europeans began wandering into Africa, discovering many raw materials that could most certainly be beneficial to their country’s industries and economy. So, the scramble for Africa began. Countries desired their land to improve their economics by increasing supply of raw materials and also by geopolitics and more strategic location and transportation. Countries also wanted colonies to improve their reputation as a world power. This increased nationalism in many countries.