Name three countries that had colonies in Africa by 1914.

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droxonian eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A number of European countries began establishing colonies in Africa prior to 1914. By the time the First World War broke out, much of the continent had been divided up between European powers and incorporated into part of allied European empires. Perhaps the key player in the beginning of this expansion was the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (as it then was), whose holdings included Nigeria, modern day Zimbabwe (Rhodesia), and Kenya. Other key players included France (notable holdings included Algeria and other parts of North Africa) and Belgium. The behavior of Belgium in particular illustrates that these different countries behaved quite differently in respect to their African nations. The Belgian treatment of the inhabitants of the Congo was extremely brutal; the enforcement of slavery was accompanied by mutilation and barbarism. 

lskillen | Student

By the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, there were in fact very few regions in Africa that were not under colonial control. The main three would be Great Britain, holding large North-South areas from Egypt to Kenya, then Rhodesia (modern Zimbabwe) to South Africa; France, who held most of Saharan Africa from the Moroccan Coast down to the Ivory Coast, as well as the island of Madagascar and what is modern Gabon; and Germany, who held relatively small but strategically important colonies in East Africa (Tanganyika and Uganda) and Cameroon, to name a few.

In addition to these more major players, Portugal and Spain both held smaller coastal territories, while Italian colonies in Libya, Eritrea and Somalia would feature more prominently in the Second World War. Last but not least was the infamous Belgian colony of the Congo, recently taken from the direct control of the Belgian King, Leopold II.

The only two independent African nations were Ethiopia and Liberia, which exist in essentially the same borders today.