A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 23

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THE PARTITION OF AFRICA


There was at this period a general European movement towards expansion. France had turned her eyes once more to the East; if India was unattainable, there were still lands beyond India where a footing might be established; though it was not without many troubles that she acquired from China the protectorate of Annam by the treaty of Tientsin in 1885. Her activities in Indo-China were probably the real though not the ostensible warrant for the British annexation of Upper Burma in 1887. European interests in the Farthest East were developing. But it was the scramble for Africa that set in most vigorously in the years immediately following the conclusion of the Congress of Berlin.

Expansion manifestly could take place only in lands — whether densely or sparsely populated — where the civilization in general and the community organization in particular were on a lower plane than those of Europe. America was already occupied by Europeans; so was most of Australasia and the islands of the Pacific. Western Asia was not an open field; northern and central Asia were out of reach except for Russia. In the farthest east of Asia there were perhaps possibilities, but there was the Chinese empire to be reckoned with. But the whole African interior was an almost unknown region, scarcely penetrated except by an occasional adventurous missionary, peopled by negro races whose culture was primitive and barbaric. The coastal districts on the Mediterranean were provinces in which such governments as existed might fairly be classed as barbaric. The Atlantic seaboard was dotted with European colonies which were little more than very unhealthy trading depots. The south was occupied by the British, the Boers and the Portuguese. Farther north, on the east, Zanzibar and Abyssinia, like Morocco on the north-west coast, and to some extent the island of Madagascar, claimed a doubtful recognition of independent states. But the rest of Africa was open to any Europeans who could take effective possession.

The British, then, as we have seen, established a temporary protectorate in Egypt, to which other Powers could hardly refuse assent; France had established her own protectorate in Tunis, not only with assent but with positive encouragement from Great Britain and Germany, though very much to the annoyance of Italy, who could only hope to find compensation on the north of Abyssinia and ultimately in Tripoli. In 1885 France without

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