The British colonized Africa from Egypt in the north to South Africa. Extension of a nation’s power through conquering overseas territory, know as imperialism had several motivations. Nationalism urged the nations of Europe to conquer land overseas. Having colonies was seen as a matter on national prestige, it was a symbol of the nation’s greatness. Lands in Africa, rich in raw materials and markets, were seen as economic opportunities for the European nations. Along with the rest of Europe Britain participated in the Scramble for Africa. The biggest urge to colonize was brought on by the economic benefits that the colonies would bring. Africa was seen as a major source of possible income, with its’ raw materials and markets for European manufactured goods. Around the 19th century, as the interest in slave trade declined other forms of trade became increasingly interesting, European powers continued to seek income. The Westerners had a keen interest in Africa’s natural resources such as animal hides, palm oil, peanuts, rubber, timber, and tin.
The growing European presence led to increasing tensions in the region. British colonization of Africa began in 1874. British imperialism started with the annexing of the west costal states (which became the Gold Coast colony) and establishing a protectorate in Nigeria. Around 1914, the Scramble for Africa had ended; Britain was in charge of a huge part of the continent. Britain controlled Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, Bechuanaland, British East Africa, British Somalia, Egypt, Gambia, Gold Coast, Nigeria, Northern Rhodesia, Nyasaland, Pemba, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Southern Rhodesia, Uganda, Union of South Africa, Walvis Bay, and Zanzibar. The size of the British reign over Africa was greater than that of any other nations. An aspiration of the British was to stretch a telegraph line from their northern colonies to their southernmost ones.
Cecil Rhodes, a successful British businessman, can be credited for the vastness of the British control in Africa. One of his ambitions was to create a series of British colonies from Cape Town to Cairo, all connected by a railroad. In fact, Cecil Rhodes was partially responsible for sparking the Boer War which lasted from 1899 to 1902. Soon after, the British government made Rhodes to resign from his post as head of Cape Colony. Ultimately, his goal was to gain as much territory in Africa as possible for the British.
Not only did imperialism provide the colonizing country with profit, the colonized lands and people also benefited from it. Western nations brought useful innovations and improvements to the people’s lives. Some of the technological advances were telegraphs, railroads, and telephones. More importantly, stable government systems, Western education, hospitals, were introduced to the colonized lands to improve the overall living standards. The British were able to bring these innovations to the continent of Africa and help the nations under their imperialistic rule.
Imperialism is the extension of a nation’s power over other lands. A nation with colonies was viewed as superior to those without; it was able to sustain its’ place amongst the leading powers. Imperialism allowed a country to control faraway lands, rich in natural resources and local markets, and profit economically. Imperialism was beneficial not only to the imperialistic nation, but the colony as well.
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Topic: Pros of British Imperialism in Africa
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