What was the main objective of the Berlin Conference?
The main objective of the Berlin Conference (1884-85) was to codify and legalize the European colonization of Africa. For a number of years, the European powers had been involved in what became known as "The Scramble for Africa." As the name suggests, the process of European colonialism had developed in a somewhat improvised, haphazard fashion, without much in the way of planning or foresight. One serious consequence of this approach was that the colonial powers often became bogged down in petty disputes with each other over territory. There was a real danger that these skirmishes could flare up into out-and-out war.
It was therefore thought necessary by Bismarck, who convened the Berlin Conference, to establish European colonies in Africa on a more formal legal and diplomatic basis. That way any territorial disputes could, it was thought, be amicably resolved, without resorting to conflict. However, Bismarck's motives weren't completely disinterested. Germany was a relative latecomer to European colonization and was becoming increasingly aggressive and expansionist. But as German territory in Africa was still dwarfed by that belonging to Britain and France, Bismarck wanted to make sure that German gains would be protected from potential incursion by the other European powers.
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