Home > AFRICA, Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe > THE BERLIN WEST AFRICA CONFERENCE 1884/5.


The Berlin West Africa Conference was called to settle disputes between the great European powers. The countries represented were: Austro-Hungarian Empire, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Ottoman Empire, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden-Norway, United Kingdom. The USA sent an observer,  Otto von Bismarck the German Chancellor hosted the conference. The conference was called as a result of European frontier disputes and claims in west Africa.

In short the main points: it was agreed to accept the Congo “Feee State” as under Belgian influence it was in fact the private property of King Leopold II of Belgium – it was neither free nor a state; France and the UK agreed interests on the River Niger and the River Nile;  a means was agreed, “Effective Occupation”  by which the European states would mark out their claims in Africa and notify neighboring European powers.  Several other local disputes and claims were settled  between France and Italy and Germany and the UK;  British protests prevented claims by Portugal for central southern Africa.  

Thus began the Scramble for Africa and the historic boundaries, for in the years following the European colonial powers established their African empires: so many of which appear as straight lines such boundaries which form the modern boundaries of independent African states. These boundaries often drawn across tribal homelands so that some tribes found themselves divided between two or three colonial authorities.  This is why there will need some day to be an historic revision of boundaries between states.

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  1. February 17, 2009 at 10:17

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