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Africa, the cradle of human origin, was home to several powerful ancient civilizations. Mainly, the Egyptian, Nubian and Carthaginian Civilization. The resources-rich continent and its strategic positioning between Europe and Asia always attracted the attention of the European colonial powers as well as the mighty nations in Asia and the Middle East. Chiefly, because the control of the African region gave a tremendous advantage in trade and commerce.
The map showcases to what extent Africa was colonized by 1914 at the beginning of the first world war. As you can see, the country that held the greatest number of colonies in Africa was,
- United Kingdom
In terms of the population held under these colonial powers,
- United Kingdom: 30%
- France: 15%
- Portugal: 11%
- Germany: 9%
- Belgium: 7%
- Italy: 1%
Together, these colonial powers controlled almost 90% of Africa and only Abyssinia (Modern Ethiopia) and Liberia were independent.
What must be highlighted here is that before 1914, by 1880, most of Africa was not occupied by the Europeans. However, within the short period of the next 30 years from 1880, the Europeans conquered almost all the continent. By 1914, as we mentioned earlier, 90% of Africa was controlled by the Europeans.
How was Africa before colonization?
Before the colonization period, Africa was an enriched multicultural society where more than 10,000 different states and groups/tribes with distinct languages, customs and cultures existed.
From the mid-7th century, with the spread of Islam in the middle east and northern Africa, Muslim Arabs started to enslave the Africans and paved the way for the slave trade. After the 15th century with the arrival of the Europeans, gradually, the Muslim Arabs were driven out and by the 18th century almost the entire African continent except Abyssinia and Liberia was under the European control.
How was Africa colonized?
European colonization was influenced mainly by economic, political and social factors. The growing industries and the starving economies in Europe required resources and raw materials to develop further on, and the resourceful new continent Africa was the perfect place. The power struggle between European nations for global supremacy motivated them, even more, to occupy the African continent militarily and diplomatically. While the social issues in Europe arose because of capitalism and industrialism compelled the European empires to colonize Africa.
What was Africa called before colonization?
Before the term “Africa” was coined by the Europeans, the indigenous name used to refer to the region was “Alkebulan”. The word “Alkebulan”, in its native term, means “the Garden of Eden” or the “Mother of Mankind”.
Later, as the Europeans occupied the region, they prefer Latin names rather than the native terms and came up with the term “Africa”.
Some historians argue that the term Africa was coined after the Roman term “Afri”, which they used to describe people living in the south of the Mediterranean and North Africa. However, this claim is still debatable.
Who discovered Africa first?
There is no exact date or a person to credit as the person who discovered Africa first like the new world (Americas) as Africa was known to European and Asian civilizations since before the birth of the Christ. However, the Portuguese explorer, Prince Henry who is famously known as the “Navigator” was the first known European to systematically and methodically explore and navigated Africa and its surrounding oceanic routes.
How did colonization affect Africa?
The colonization affected Africa mostly in a negative condition as the European cultural suppression caused many indigenous cultures to disappear from Africa.
In addition, the European economic introductions and reforms caused the traditional and ancient agricultural and industrial sectors of Africa to decline eventually.
Furthermore, the introduction of foreign religions such as Christianity and Islam caused the gradual extinction of many local religions and tribal customs.
Almost all the aspects of the economy and lifestyle of Africans were forever changed during colonization and its aftermath.
What is the oldest country in Africa?
The oldest country in Africa is Egypt. The founding year of the Egyptian kingdom dates back to 3000 B.C and is often regarded as the first civilization to sprout in Africa.
However, as Egypt, its society, culture, and people are more closely related to Asia and the middle east, some historians suggest that Ethiopia should be the oldest country in Africa. It must be noted that Ethiopia is the “oldest independent country” in Africa. Except for the 5-year occupation by the Mussolini in the 1930s’, the country has been always independent and successfully defended its sovereignty against the European empires.