Colonization of Africa

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Ancient Colonization

North Africa in particular experienced colonization from Europe and Asia Minor in the early historical period.

The city of Carthage was established in what is now Tunisia by Phoenician colonists, becoming a major power in the Mediterranean by the 4th century BC. Over time the city changed hands, falling to the Romans after the Third Punic War, where it served as the capital city of the Romans' African province. Gothic Vandals briefly established a kingdom there in the 5th century, which shortly thereafter fell to the Romans again, this time the Byzantines. The Ancient Egyptian civilization also fell under the sway of the Greeks, later passing to the Romans. The whole of Roman/Byzantine North Africa eventually fell to the Arabs in the 7th century, who brought the Islamic religion and Arabic language (see History of Islam).

Early modern period

From the seventh century, Arab trade with sub-Saharan Africa led to a gradual colonization of East Africa, around Zanzibar and other bases. Although trans-Saharan trade led to a small number of West African cities developing Arab quarters, these were not intended as colonies and even the pillage of the Moroccan war in the Sahel finished with moroccan forces returning home.

Early European expeditions concentrated on colonizing previously uninhabited islands such as the Cape Verdes and Sao Tome Island, or establishing coastal forts as a base for trade. These forts often developed areas of influence along coastal strips, but (with the exception of the River Senegal), the vast interior of Africa was not colonized and indeed little known to Europeans until the late nineteenth century.

The Scramble for Africa

Main article: Scramble for Africa

Established empires, notably Britain, Portugal and France, had already expropriated vast areas of Africa and Asia, and emerging imperial powers like Italy and Germany had done likewise on a smaller scale. With the dismissal of the aging Chancellor Bismarck by Kaiser Wilhelm II, the relatively orderly colonization became a frantic scramble. The 1885 Congress of Berlin, initiated by Bismarck to establish international guidelines for the acquisition of African territory, formalized this "New Imperialism". Between the Franco-Prussian War and the Great War, Europe added almost 9 million square miles (23,000,000 km²) — one-fifth of the land area of the globe — to its overseas colonial possessions.

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