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Although there had been a British and greater European presence in Africa prior to the last two decades of the 19th century it was primarily coastal and revolved around the slave trade With the abolition of the slave trade within the British Empire in 1803 and a complete abolition of slavery across the empire in 1834 there was little interest in Africa by Britain until the end of the century This lack of interest in Africa did not include The Cape Colony though which the British gained at the end of the Napoleonic Wars and which served a key role in outfitting ships on the British trade route to India The role and importance of Africa to the British soon changed though do to imperial competition with France and Germany Germany under the aggressive policies of Bismarck set out to take a leading role in Africa and catch up to other European powers such as Britain and France in terms of empire by gaining new control over territory and expanding their spheres of influence Other important factors made Africa the hot spot for British and European expansion including the discovery of gold in the Transvaal and diamonds in the Orange Free State the palm oil industry in Nigeria scientific discoveries such as the way to treat malaria and the mapping and exploration of the previously mysterious African interior early in the 19th century In order to explore the nature of British expansion in Africa Porters The Lions Share and TO Lloyds The British Empire 1558-1995 are indispensable texts Using their information on British expansion throughout Africa as a foundation it becomes possible to break down the period of greatest growth between 1880 and 1900 by analyzing British role in Africa prior to 1880 the external roles that competitors such as Germany and France had in forcing Englands imperial hand coupled with the internal economic drives for procuring areas of Africa and the special
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