The effect of the Berlin Conference on African peoples was profound. This was because it played a major role in sparking the so-called "scramble for Africa" among European colonial powers that led to the colonization of almost the entire continent by the end of the nineteenth century. This was true for two reasons. First, by resolving a series of disputes about access to rivers and already existing colonial borders, the Conference created a international legal framework by which the powers of Europe could colonize new territories without worrying about going to war. Second, the agreement reached at the Conference mandated that European powers actually physically colonize territories they claimed by establishing a presence there. This caused countries to rush to build railroads, cities, and military installations in lands they had already claimed. The result of this was a much more intrusive European presence in Africa than had previously existed. So while in some ways the Conference only ratified a trend that had been going on for a long time, it did also encourage increased European presence in Africa, a process that was disastrous for millions of African peoples across the continent.