One of the major reasons for bad relations amongst the nations of Europe in the years before 1914 was that they were engaged in a struggle to obtain overseas colonies.
Although this happened in several areas of the world, the most dramatic changes took place in Africa. Many nations took part in what became known as the “Scramble for Africa”.
The following pages will show the territory gained by each nation, and will explain why the race to gain colonies played a part in the build-up of international tensions which eventually resulted in World War One.
During the late 1800s, relations between Britain and France were strained by a series of disputes over African colonies.
Both nations hoped to control Egypt and Morocco and this caused many bitter arguments.
These were eventually settled in 1904 by the Entente Cordiale. This “friendly understanding” said that Britain should control Egypt and France should control Morocco.
However, Germany strongly objected to this agreement…
Kaiser William II was jealous of the empires of both France and Britain and tried to break up the “friendly understanding” between them.
On two occasions, in 1905 and 1911, German claims over Morocco raised international tension. Indeed, the “Agadir Incident” of 1911 caused Britain to hint that war might result if Germany continued her claims.
This crisis passed, but these disputes simply made international relations worse. The bad feeling they created (combined with other factors) made the possibility of war more likely.
Archeological records show that the indigenous populations of southern Africa have mined, smelted and made tools, currency, and religious icons from iron, lead, brass, and gold for nearly 2,000 years. For nearly as long, people who lived in areas of mineral wealth have traded minerals with neighbors and more distant peoples. Indeed, strong centralized kingdoms developed in areas of mineral wealth.
Minerals played a very important part in the more recent history...