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A Map Of Colonial Africa Just Before The Outbreak Of World War I

By the turn of the 20th Century, Africa had been invaded, occupied, and colonized by several European nations. This wonderful map by redditor whiplashoo21 shows how the Scramble for Africa divided the Dark Continent.

European powers were slow to realize the benefits of grabbing African territories, but once the mad rush to claim land started in 1876, the continent was quickly — and at times brutally — overrun. By 1914, European powers controlled 90% of Africa, with only Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) and Liberia remaining independent.

By the time World War I broke out, Britain and France collectively controlled 45% of Africa’s population. Germany, late to the show, held on to 9%. This would prove to be a significant disadvantage for Germany during the war as it could not compete with the Allies for both material and human resources (e.g., France used colonial troops along the Western Front). That said, German General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck — commander of forces in the German East Africa campaign — was a major thorn in Britain’s side; he’s the only German commander to successfully invade imperial British soil during the conflict.