Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 1 month ago

when did Europeans really start to colonize Africa? why it seems like they did this AFTER America?

they knew about Africa much before they knew of America, right? and they also had sailed down the coast of Africa probably as early as Roman times? or how soon? why they waited so late to go into Africa and start mining , and doing what they did in the Americas?

2 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 month ago
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    European exploration of Africa in Roman times was really stopped at the Sahara.  Roman traders would have been making their way down the Red Sea and into the Arabian Sea/Indian Ocean, but they weren't really going into sub-saharan Africa, which is what we're really talking about when we talk about "Africa" (although the name comes from Roman terms for North Africa).  It wasn't until the 15th century that Europeans began really making their way down the Atlantic coast of Africa.  IIRC they made it into the Bight of Benin aroudn 1450 and rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and entered the Indian Ocean, a few years before Columbus sailed. 

    Europeans immediately began trading with African empires, but, with the exception of a few places like South Africa, mostly didn't make efforts to colonize until the mid 19th century.  During the "Age of Exploration" European presence in Africa was mostly limited to some isolated coastal enclaves, often trading forts and settlements. 

    The reason was that much of Africa that they encountered was ruled by established states with established militaries and dense populations.  Of course, this was true of some areas in the Americas as well, particularly the core regions of Spanish America in Mexico and Peru.   The Inca and the Aztec were immensely populous urban societies, with Conquistadors saying that Tenochtitlan dwarfed anything in Europe with the possible exception of Constantinople.  But the civilizations of the Americas were really stone age civilizations, at least when it came to military tech.  Historians have long ago discarded the notion of the tiny band of Conquistadors conquering Mexico based on their vastly superior tech.  Cortes exploited internal divisions among the Aztecs and their client states, and the Conquistadors formed the core of large armies which were primarily Native American.  But the more advanced military technology of the Spaniards played an important role.  Client peoples who had previously refused to rebel against the Aztecs were emboldened by the amazing technology of the Spaniards.

    This simply wasn't true in Africa.  The African societies which Europeans encountered as they moved out in the Atlantic in the late Middle Ages had comparable levels of technology.  They were an iron age people like the Europeans and had metal swords and armor.  They used horses in war.  The Europeans had guns, which the Africans initially did not, but late Medieval guns weren't that great and Africans soon acquired guns through trade.  While it was certainly possible for Europeans to conquer places in Africa, just like they could conquer places in Europe, it was much more difficult than in the Americas.  And it wasn't, for the most part, necessary.  Africans were absolutely willing to trade with Europeans for things that Europeans wanted including gold and enslaved people.  Furthermore, in many parts of Africa, Europeans encountered a new disease environment which was unhealthy for them.  It wasn't until the 19th century that we got effective treatments for tropical diseases.  This limited the ability of Europeans to set up there in the long term. 

    We only really got the "scramble for Africa" in the 19th century when a confluence of events happened.  One was that the Americas were closed off for further colonial exploitation due to various independence movements.  Another was, as I've said, he development of medicines to treat tropical diseases.  And the third was an industrial economy which had new demand for tropical African products like rubber and oil. 

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  • Anonymous
    1 month ago

    They have been colonizing north Africa since before Alexander's time, after all Egypt is in north Africa, and it's been known about since ancient times. Africans were also colonizing Europe at that time, as there were wars between Carthage and Rome, Carthage is an African city.

    The only reason you seem to think it happened after America is because you've only been taught American history. There was a longer period of time that Africa was colonized than America was.

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