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Introduction Major European powers had for centuries engaged in colonialism however the phenomenon of the period 1870-1914 was expansion in a form never before witnessed Competitive industrial nations Great Britain first and foremost set out on a race to divide the world at least the parts unoccupied namely Africa and Asia between them In the three decades after 1870 European nations divided up the remainder of the world by 1900 Europe controlled almost all of Africa and Southeast Asia Britain had taken over 345 million non-Britons in Africa India and the Pacific region France had raised its flag over 56 million people outside Europe the Netherlands controlled 35 million and Germany almost 15 million Reasons So what was the actual cause of this unprecedented expansion There are several reasons why the European nations competed with each other for colonies but a prime factor was economic motivation The colonising country could control important markets for its exports and deny these markets to its competitors Colonies were also important sources of raw materials providing in particular rubber as well as being the source of more exotic goods for the affluent European market and as opportunities for investment A country often also increased its wealth by conquering another civilisation and taking its riches or exploiting the mineral wealth of another land The discovery of gold and diamonds in Africa greatly increased European interest in the continent Industrialised countries often produced more manufactured goods than their people needed or could afford to buy Colonies served as markets for these unsold products Africa and to a lesser extent Asia were seen as a market for industrialised goods produced in Europe Production costs abroad were lower than at home The Europeans began to build plantations where they grew peanuts palm oil cocoa and rubber The Congo produced copper and tin As industrialisation
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