History of Africa
Significance of the Berlin Conference
November 15, 1884 Portugal called for a conference. Organized by Otto von Bismarck, the chancellor of Germany and minister of Prussia, the Berlin Conference was created. 14 countries attended, including Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden-Norway, Turkey, and the United States of America. The main countries involved were France, Germany, Great Britain, and Portugal. Even though the conference was about dividing up Africa, not a single representative from any part of Africa attended. The Berlin Conference lasted for three months, ending February 26, 1885. Also known as the Congo Conference and the Berlin West Africa Conference, the Berlin Conference was created to negotiate questions and end confusion over the control of Africa. It was meant to agree that the Congo River and Niger River mouths and basins would be considered neutral and open trade. They would also base it on Social Darwinism, which was used to justify their racism and to discourage intervention and reform. This is basically stating that they believed the white race was superior to the black race and should control most of Africa. Why Africa? The expansion of territory is one reason, but the main reason was Africa’s vast expensive resources. In 1867 diamonds were discovered and later in 1886 gold would be another prized discovery along with copper, rubber, and coco beans. To obtain these resources they would need cheap labor, which Africa would also provide. The turn of the Industrial Revolution made the demand for these products increase immensely, resulting in more labor and more invasions into Africa by the Europeans. Even though Africa is located in a remote place compared to the rest of the countries, it is completely surrounded by water making it easily accessible. At the time, 80% of Africa remained under local control. Only the...
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