How Many European Countries Held African Colonies By 1914

Which European countries had colonies in Africa in 1914?

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There were many countries that had colonies in Africa in 1914. Countries wanted colonies for various reasons. These included economic reasons that revolved around obtaining resources and developing or maintaining trade. There were strategic reasons also. Control of the Suez Canal would give a country a strategic advantage geographically as the Suez Canal connects the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Finally, countries wanted to control as much land as possible to enhance their position as a world power.

By 1914, several European countries had colonies in Africa. Great Britain, France, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Portugal, and Spain all had African colonies. British colonies included Egypt and Uganda. French colonies included Algeria and Morocco. Italian colonies included Libya and Italian Somalia. Belgium colonies included Belgium Congo. German colonies included German Southwest Africa and Germany East Africa. Portuguese colonies included Angola and Mozambique. Spanish colonies included Rio de Oro and Rio Muni. By 1914, most of Africa was under European colonial rule.

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In 1914, the following European nations held territories, or colonies, on the continent of Africa: Belgium, Portugal, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Spain.  Belgium's colony was the region known as the Congo (referred to as Belgian Congo), currently the Democratic Republic of Congo, and called Zaire in the decades after independence.  Portuguese colonies included modern-day Angola, Mozambique, and Portuguese Guinea.  German colonies consisted of current-day Namibia and Cameroon, and Togo.  French colonies were Algeria, Morocco, much of West Africa (a region that currently consists of Mali, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Senegal, and Niger), French Equatorial Guinea, and Madagascar.  British colonies included Egypt, Sudan, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Rhodesia (today's Zimbabwe), South Africa, and current day Kenya and Uganda. Italy's colonies included Libya, much of current day Somalia, and Eritrea.  Finally, Spain's colonization on the continent consisted of a region of the western Sahara currently controlled by Morocco but sovereignty over which is sought by the indigenous ethnic group known as Sahrawis.  The earlier answer is factually incorrect in referring to this section of land as part of Morocco.  It is not, and the indigenous peoples have long fought Moroccan occupation, which took place following Spain's withdrawal in 1976, particularly an insurgency led by the Polisario Front

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The nations listed below each had colonies in Africa in 1914. The lists of colonies each nation controlled are not exhaustive, but rather intended to demonstrate what regions of Africa each nation had colonial interest in. In addition, the imperial relationship was different in each colony. In some cases European nations governed by puppet regimes, in others by direct rule. With these caveats in mind, the European nations with colonies in Africa were:

  • Great Britain, whose colonies included South Africa, Kenya, Sierra Leone, and Egypt
  • Belgium, which ruled the Congo region of Africa
  • France, which controlled most of northwest Africa including Mali, Algeria, and Senegal as well as the island of Madagascar off the southeastern coast
  • Germany, which ruled Cameroon, Namibia, and Togo
  • Italy, which controlled Libya and modern Somalia
  • Portugal, which controlled Angola and Mozambique
  • Spain had the smallest territory, a tiny strip of land in Morocco.

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