What attracted European imperialism to Africa & to Asia in the late nineteenth century.

Topics: Colonialism, Africa, Imperialism Pages: 5 (1577 words) Published: December 3, 2007
Mortimer Chambers et al define imperialism as a European state's intervention in and continuing domination over a non-European territory. During the 'Scramble for Africa' in the late nineteenth century, the most powerful European nations desired to conquer, dominate and exploit African colonies with the hope of building an empire. According to Derrick Murphy, in 1875 only ten percent of Africa was occupied by European states. Twenty years later only ten percent remained unoccupied. There were several factors which attracted European imperialists to Africa. There were opportunities for profitable investment and trade. Raw materials, which Africa possessed in abundance, were also desired. A cheap source of labour was required as it would result in higher profits. In addition, there was international rivalry among European nations. Domestic political interests and social Darwinism may also be blamed for attracting European imperialism to Africa.

European imperialists were lured to Africa by the potential economic benefits she possessed. Industrialization caused a mass productivity and there became an artificial need for foreign markets to invest in. According to Brian Levack et al, with the onset of economic decline in 1873 industrialists were faced with a declining demand for their products in Europe. Imperial expansion, it was thought, would provide a solution with annexed territories seen as captive markets. It was believed that the unfavorable balance of trade that Britain and other industrial countries were experiencing could be counterbalanced by the income from overseas investments. Also, surplus capital could be profitably invested in Africa where cheap labour and limited competition would result in higher profits. Prominent European imperialists decided to use the public resources of their country to find lucrative means of using their capital. The English radical economist J.A. Hobson, argues that the intention was to level out inequalities of wealth to increase domestic consumption. Local merchants, traders and bankers were optimistic towards the idea of imperial expansion and capital investments outside of Europe became an increasingly vital sector of its economy.

There was an increasing demand for raw materials in Europe in the late nineteenth century. According to Brian Levack, the new technologies characteristic of the industrial revolution meant that industrial Europe became increasingly dependent on raw materials. European nations felt the urge to control lands that possessed great quantities of raw materials. Africa was rich with raw materials as well as many treasure reserves. As a result, many major industrial companies attempted to gain a monopoly of raw materials in Africa. Stuart Miller believes that specific trade links were important to particular industries. Some raw materials in Africa were of great importance; the vegetable oil of the Niger was vital for lubricating industrial machinery and the rubber of the Congo was not only essential for the tires on the new automobiles but also for insulating the electrical and telegraph wires now encircling the globe. The plentiful elephant herds could be slaughtered to provide the ivory for many of the new consumer goods such as piano keys, billiard balls and knife handles. In Togoland, Germans were able to cultivate plantations where they grew cocoa and rubber. Other raw materials included peanuts, cotton and tea. There were also many important minerals and South Africa possessed gold and diamonds.

International rivalry among European nations contributed greatly to imperialist ventures in Africa. Britain's rivalry with France and Germany accounted for a large part of the colonization. The British government wished to maintain its dominance in the colonial regions. Other European powers desired to expand their colonial spheres as well and Britain responded by seizing colonies. Certain territories were important for their location. The Suez Canal was...

Bibliography: .) Chambers Mortimer, Hanawalt Barbara, Rabb Theodore, Woloch Isser, Grew Raymond, The Western Experience, 1999, The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc., United States of America2.) James Lawrence, 'The White Man 's Burden '? Imperial Wars in the 1890s ' Spielvogel Jackson, Western Civilization, Mc Graw Hill, Connecticut, 1999(pgs 100-105)3.) Levack Brian, Muir Edward, Maas Michael, Veldman Meredith, The West, Encounters and Transformations, 2004, Pearson Education Inc., United States of America4.) Miller Stuart, Mastering Modern European History, 1997, Palgrave, United Kingdom, Hampshire5.) Murphy Derrick, Morris Terry, Europe 1870-1991, 2000, Harper Collins Publishers LTD, United Kingdom, England6.) 'The Church as a Tool of Imperialism '
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