Many ethnic groups but few Europeans rule in Africa. There are great cities, empires, and trade, but as a whole Africa is diverse and not unified. Europeans learn about Africa from explorers. Henry Stanley claims the Congo River Valley for Belgium. Greed, nationalism, racism, and philanthropy motivate European colonialism. Social Darwinism, or the idea that non-European peoples were less fit to rule, helped Europeans feel that had the right to control African people. Malaria, impassable rivers, and strong African warriors limit European presence in Africa until the late 1800s. The takeover of a country or territory with the intent of dominating political, economic, and social life is called imperialism. Superior arms, the steam engine, medicines, and African rivalries help Europe take Africa. The Berlin Conference divides Africa and reduces conflict among European nations. The division fails to take into account African ethnic and linguistic groupings. Europeans take advantage of Africa’s vast natural resources. Dutch then British imperialists land in South Africa. Despite the organization of their chief Shaka, the Zulus are eventually absorbed by the British. The Great Trek takes the Dutch speaking Boers north to escape British domination. Boers are defeated by the British in the Boer War and join the Union of South Africa.
Europeans use four methods to control their colonies: Colony, Protectorate, Sphere of Influence, and Economic Imperialism. Britain and the United States use indirect control limited self-rule. The French follow a policy of paternalism, or “caring for” their subjects like children and assimilation, or encouraging their subject become French. Africans resist colonial rule, despite lack of adequate organization and weapons. In part due to the leadership of Menelik II, Ethiopia is the only nation to remain free of European domination. Colonialism has both positive and negative effects on African lands and peoples. Africans are forced to grow cash crops like cotton instead of food for themselves. African boundaries plague Africa for years to come.
The great Suleiman I is succeeded by a series of weak rulers. Selim III’s reforms give rise to nationalist’s feelings. Europeans seize the opportunity to divide the empire. In an example of geopolitics, the Ottomans control access to the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Black seas trade hurting Russia. The Ottoman, British, and French defeat the Russians in the Crimea War, the first modern-day war. Under Muhammad Ali, Egypt tries reforms but loses control of the Suez Canal to Britain and France when it cannot pay its foreign debt. Although Persia attempts to modernize, Russia and Britain take control of spheres of influence.
The East India Company seizes control of most of India with the help of Indian soldiers called sepoys. Britain considers India its primary colony, or “jewel in the crown”. India benefits and suffers under British colonial rule. The Indian railway system helps make India extremely valuable to the British. Indians object to the racist attitudes of the British rulers. The Sepoy Mutiny turns into widespread rebellion. The British government takes direct control of India and establishes the Raj. Indians begin to demand a greater role in government. Ram Mohun Roy speaks out against social injustices. Nationalist form the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League. A public outcry forces Britain to redraw its partition of Bengal.
European powers race to claim a part of Southeast Asia for themselves. The Dutch East India Company from the Netherlands controls Indonesia and creates a rigid social hierarchy. 3. The British encourage large-scale immigration of the Chinese to Malaysia. The French try to impose their culture on their colonies in Indochina. Siam and its leader, King Mongkut, remains independent by becoming a neutral zone between France and Britain. Americans disagree about colonizing other countries, but economic interests spur U.S. imperialism. The U.S. defeats Spain and Filipino nationalist Emilio Aruinaldo to acquire the Philippine Islands but promises self-rule. U.S. businesses promote cash crops over food crops in the Philippines and Hawaii. U.S. companies overthrow Queen Liliuokalani and establish a republic in Hawaii, which is annexed to the U.S.