Map A. Imperialism in Africa
During the late nineteenth century, the countries of Europe were engaged in what has since been referred to as the "Scramble for Africa." Prior to the 1880s, most Western countries engaged in "informal" empires. This meant that although certain areas of the non-Western world were under the influence of companies such as the East India Company, there was no official governmental control of these areas. However, with the growing tide of nationalism and empire building that swept Europe in the 1880s and the discovery of quinine, which helped protect against malaria, the carving up and colonization of Africa began in earnest. This interactive map details the rise and fall of the European colonies in Africa throughout the twentieth century. When using this map, be sure to note the changing borders of African countries over the course of the century.
Why was the continent of Africa carved up between European powers? What events were taking place on the European continent that helped fuel rivalries in Africa?
Which European countries possessed the greater number of colonies in Africa?
What were some of the resources that made the colonization of Africa so lucrative? Which countries were able to control these precious resources?
When did the countries of Europe start losing their African colonies? What events precipitated this wave of decolonization?
Map B. Imperialism in Asia
As early as the sixteenth century, European countries began colonizing and trading with many areas of Asia. By the nineteenth century, much of Asia was under European, Chinese, or Japanese control. The European powers that colonized these areas were able to take advantage of collapsing empires that had previously held control in a region. This was especially true for Britain's control over India, which became solidified with the dissolution of the Mughal Empire. Also, many smaller, less urbanized Asian countries had not industrialized by the nineteenth century and this lower level of industrialization led to European military dominance. By the dawn of the twentieth century, the majority of Asia was under some form of colonial control. By mid-century, however, European dominance started to fade. When using this map, think about what factors contributed to the decolonization of Asia.
Discuss the reasons why European countries wanted overseas empires. What was the primary force that motivated imperialism?
Compare the colonial experiences of Africa and India. How important was it that India had one primary colonial power (Britain) while Africa had many?
Explore the relationship between nationalism and imperialism. Does imperialism always cause the increase in nationalist aspirations among subject peoples?
What were the overall effects of imperialism on world history? Explain how developments in late nineteenth century altered both European societies and those in subject countries.