Discuss the factors responsible for the imperialist control of African countries by European countries.

Discuss the factors responsible for the imperialist control of African countries by European countries.


  • Start with the condition of Africa before imperialism.
  • Then, discuss factors responsible for imperialism in Africa.
  • Conclude appropriately.
Model Answer :

The interior of Africa was almost unknown to the Europeans till the middle of the 19th century. But it was occupied by European powers during the period of New Imperialism, between 1881 and 1914. It is also known as “Scramble for Africa” as it involved scramble for the occupation, division and colonization of African continent. Mainly seven European powers – France, Germany, Britain, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Portugal – were active during this period to claim African territory.

Causes of European imperialism in Africa were:

  • Economic factors- Many countries Africa were well known for natural resources like gold, diamonds etc. Also, African countries provided good market for the manufactured goods.
  • Inner conflicts- The conflicts between states and within states was other important reason. The rulers and chiefs often sought the support of the Europeans against their rivals.
  • Bogus treaties- Treaties were signed between European powers to settle disputes over claims to African territories between themselves. These treaties were often fraudulent and bogus.
  • Strategic rivalry- The rivalry between Britain, France, Germany, and the other European powers accounts for a large part of the colonization.
  • Role of explorers, traders and missionaries- The explorers aroused the Europeans interest in Africa and missionaries found this opportunity for spreading Christianity.
  • Slaves- Cheap slaves were available in Africa which was badly needed in the European countries to work at low wages.
  • Less military strength- The African countries had outdated firearms which had been sold to them by the Europeans.

As by 1914, almost all parts of the non-industrialized world had come under direct or indirect control of a few industrialized countries. Most countries of Africa had lost their political freedom and were ruled by one or other imperialist country.

Subjects : History – World