The Conquest of African Territories by Europe

There was solidarity between the occupation of European territories and African countries until the second half of the 19th century. Despite their huge differences, the occupations of both continents were limited to the coasts, and their purpose was purely commercial. Both countries went about their business, with no country looking for dominance over the other.

However, in the second half of the nineteenth century, England began its domination over Africa, starting with the purchase of shares. This article will examine England’s dominance over Africa and Asia and its relations with other European countries. We will also discuss the division of Asia and Africa into colonies and zones.

Europe’s Dominance

  • England

The dominance began with England’s purchase of about half of the shares of Egypt’s Suez Canal. In 1882, Europe set up military occupation in Egypt and penetrated Sudan, which had led a revolt the previous year.

It was not long before England established its dominance and protectorate in Egypt, with plans to conquer more territories. The Cape Colony’s governor at the time, Cecil Rhodes, attempted to also take over the Boer territories but was resisted.

Cecil Rhodes was bent on bringing Boer territories under the control of Cape Colony, but the former protested. Boer resisted such that it provoked the outbreak of a war between 1899 and 1902. Nevertheless, Boer’s resistance was eventually crushed by the brutal methods and superior methods the British adopted as the territories succumbed.

Shortly after, the two Boer republics of Orange and Transvaal were annexed to other South African territories already overtaken by the British. The annexing of the two republics led to the formation of the South African Union. The South African Union had its own government, but it remained under the rule and sovereignty of the British government.

  • France

France expanded itself in Africa, starting with the overtaking and conquest of Tunisia in 1881. The years following saw France further extending its dominance in the central and internal parts of Africa, building an African empire.

France’s dominance over Africa did not cause any serious conflicts between the country and England. The only time when it seemed there would be war was when an English expedition met a French column in Fashoda village.

The encounter took place in Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, where the two expedition leaders faced each other for a couple of days. The face-off was serious as both leaders were ready to draw their weapons until their governments found a peaceful agreement.

More so, both governments considered that other competitors like Italy and Germany could have taken advantage of the clash. With this understanding, the governments of France and England managed to draw up a peaceful arrangement.

  • Germany

Meanwhile, Germany was not interested in the colonial issue; Bismarck believed there are better ways to better safeguard Germany’s interests. He believed Germany’s interests could be better safeguarded by a political line that will confirm the hegemony Europe already conquered. However, it had little choice as the pressure of economic forces that wanted the colonial expansion made themselves felt in 1884.

The Pan-German League and German colonial society became active propagandists of the German’s superiority and right to dominate people they termed “inferior.” Despite the delay in the colonial conquests, Germany still had wide chances; it used it to establish its dominance in various African territories.

  • Italy

Italy purchased the Assab bay on the Red Sea as well as Massawa, where it had already established dominance. By 1884, Italy had already used the territory of Massawa to form the colony of Eritrea. After this, between 1884 and 1890, the country conquered a part of Somalia, bringing it under its control.

  • Belgium

Meanwhile, Belgium’s presence among the states that acquire domains in Africa brought about the personal initiatives of king Leopold II. King Leopold II is renowned for promoting the constitution of an African international association which was to fight against the trafficking of blacks in Africa.

The Relations between European Countries

There was rivalry between France and Great Britain particularly in regard to the dominance of Egypt and Indochina. Furthermore, the conditions for a new deployment of international forces were being created by the rapid process of colonial expansion.

These conditions were also set by the advancing establishment of economic competition. However, in the meantime, Bismarck exploited the rivalries and took advantage of them to create a system of relations where Germany was protected.

Bismarck’s creation was such that Germany was guaranteed by any offensive coalition, with France at the center. This alliance between Austria and Germany in 1879 stated this skillful diplomatic construction; next, another pact of the three emperors in 1881.

Meanwhile, Tsar Alexander III had adhered to the pact in order to prevent Germany and Austria from unilaterally changing the Balkans’ status quo. Simultaneously, Bismarck created a Triple Alliance between Germany, Austria, and Italy.

However, between 1885 and 1886, the system suffered a crisis because the Austro-Russian dissension over the Balkans reemerged. The pact between the three emperors was dissolved, with Bismarck opposing the strengthening of ties between Italy and Austria.

He also opposed the counter-insurance treaty with Russia. This crisis, however, exposed Bismarck’s policy’s weakness, which was that Austria’s alliance and support for Austria’s ambitions in the Balkans contradicted the Russo-German pact.

The Agreement

In 1904, Great Britain and Germany reached an agreement, which did not necessarily translate to a formal alliance pact. However, it was significant and led to the two powers on all major Mediterranean and European issues converging.

Also, Italy played its part by giving a less rigid interpretation to the Triple Alliance. The pact was renewed in 1902, at which point Italy reaffirmed its defensive character while agreeing with France.

As of 1902, things had begun to change and it seemed a new century was being formed. More so, Italy’s initiative was a sign that there was a change in the international situation, at the start of the new century.


European countries have determined and exercised their rights over dominating people they referred to as “inferior.” Each European country penetrated Africa, conquering territories by peace or by weapon. These actions caused conflicts between countries, which were later resolved by Bismarck’s initiative, although temporarily. The flaws of Bismarck’s initiative were discovered and better solutions proffered, thus creating an agreement between countries to an extent.