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One goal of British imperialists in Africa was to gain control “from Cairo to the Cape” (South Africa). Which colony stood in the way of that plan? Which European country controlled that colony?

He relentlessly opposed the slave trade, which remained a profitable business for some. The only way to end this cruel traffic, he believed, was to open up the interior of Africa to Christianity and trade.

Europeans credited Livingstone with “discovering” the huge waterfalls on the Zambezi River. He named them Victoria Falls, after Britain's Queen Victoria. The Africans who lived nearby, however, had long known the falls as Mosi oa Tunya, “the smoke that thunders.”

Livingstone blazed a trail that others soon followed. In 1869, the journalist Henry Stanley trekked into Central Africa to find Livingstone, who had not been heard from for years. He finally tracked him down in 1871 in what is today Tanzania, greeting him with the now-legendary question “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”

European Nations Scramble for Colonies

Shortly after Stanley met up with Livingstone, King Leopold II of Belgium hired Stanley to explore the Congo River basin and arrange trade treaties with African leaders. Publicly, Leopold spoke of a civilizing mission to carry the light “that for millions of men still plunged in barbarism will be the dawn of a better era.” Privately, he dreamed of conquest and profit.

Leopold's activities in the Congo set off a scramble by other nations. Before long, Britain, France, and Germany were pressing rival claims to the region. The scramble for Africa had begun. It would end with the partition of virtually the entire continent among the great powers of Europe.

The Berlin Conference

To avoid bloodshed, European powers met at an international conference in 1884. It took place not in Africa but in Berlin, Germany. No Africans were invited to the conference.

At the Berlin Conference, European powers recognized Leopold's private claims to the Congo Free State but called for free trade on the Congo and Niger rivers.


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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments