Scramble for Africa

Imperial Europe

Europe 1884.1115

Scramble for Africa

Imperial Europe (15 November 1884)

Historical Map of Europe & the Mediterranean

In 1881 France alarmed Italy by seizing Tunisia. The next year Britain occupied Egypt, infuriating France - which had built and now co-owned the Suez Canal. To reduce the possibility of a general European conflict over these and numerous other disputes involving Africa, Germany organized the Berlin Conference in 1884.

Main Events

French conquest of Tunisia

On 28 April 1881, 28,000 French troops under General Forgemol de Bostquénard invaded Tunisia. On May 12, Bostquénard secured a treaty with Bey Muhammad III as-Sadiq making the country a French protectorate.

Austria-Hungary, Germany and Russia form League of Three Emperors

Triple Alliance

Anglo-Egyptian War

To finance its imperial ambitions, Egypt had borrowed extensively from European banks. In 1877, the government defaulted, leading Britain and France to take over the country’s finances. In 1879, the Khedivate slashed the size of its army, leading disaffected Colonel Ahmed ‘Urabi to lead a Nationalist revolt against the Khedive. By 1882, ‘Urabi had taken control over most of Egypt. Fearing that a Nationalist government would default on its debts and assert control of the Suez Canal, British forces invaded Egypt, defeating 'Urabi at the Battle of Tel el-Kebir.

Berlin Conference

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