Why Britain Expanded its Empire in Africa from 1880 to 1900

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Why Britain Expanded its Empire in Africa from 1880 to 1900 In 1875 the two most important European holdings in Africa were Algeria and the Colony. The Cape Colony was a lock up point for the British Trading Fleet en route from India and the Far East. By 1914 only Ethiopia and the republic of Liberia remained outside formal European control. The transition from an "informal empire" of control through economic dominance to direct control took the form of a "scramble" for territory by the nations of Europe. Britain tried not to play a part in this early scramble- being more of a trading empire rather then a colonial empire, however it soon became clear it had to gain its own African empire to maintain the balance of power. This is the direct link to Hobson’s Theory of ‘Overseas Investments’. Hobson saw the ‘greedy capitalists’ and the British Aristocracy, that he called the ‘shady elite’ to be investing into Africa to only gain personally at the start. However, when the problems began to raise the ‘shady elite’ would request the British Government to help and overtake the problems. Hobson saw the partition of Africa as deliberate British policy for benefit of elite group of 'greedy capitalist' investors. However, most investment in Africa occurred after the Scramble for Africa. This is due to the fact that Britain was more interested in the USA’s economy. As French, Belgian and Portuguese activity in the Lower Congo River region threatened to undermine orderly penetration of tropical Africa, the Berlin Conference of 1884–85 sought to regulate the competition between the powers by defining "effective occupation" as the decisi... ... middle of paper ... ... Canal to the mineral-rich South, though German occupation of Tanganyika prevented its realisation until the end of World War I. In 1903, the All Red Line telegraph system communicated with the major parts of the Empire. Paradoxically Britain, the staunch advocate of free trade, emerged in 1914 with not only the largest overseas empire thanks to her long-standing presence in India, but also the greatest gains in the "scramble for Africa", reflecting her advantageous position at its inception. Between 1885 and 1914 Britain took nearly 30% of Africa's population under her control, compared to 15 per cent for France, 9 per cent for Germany, 7 per cent for Belgium and 1 per cent for Italy: Nigeria alone contributed 15 million subjects, more than in the whole of French West Africa or the entire German colonial empire.

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