Areas of Africa controlled by European colonial powers (Belgian, British, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish Empires)
The Scramble for Africa, also called the Partition of Africa or the Conquest of Africa, was the invasion, occupation, division, and colonisation of African territory by European powers during a short period known to historians as the New Imperialism (between 1881 and 1914). The 10 percent of Africa was under formal European control in 1870 increased to almost 90 percent by 1914, with only Ethiopia (Abyssinia) and Liberia remaining independent. European motives included the desire to control valuable natural resources, rivalry and the quest for national prestige, and religious missionary zeal, although internal African politics also played a role.
The Berlin Conference of 1884, which regulated European colonisation and trade in Africa, is usually referred to as the starting point of the Scramble for Africa. Consequent to the political and economic rivalries among the European empires in the last quarter of the 19th century, partitioning Africa was how the Europeans avoided going to war over it. In the later years of the 19th century, the European nations transitioned from “informal imperialism” — i.e., exercising military influence and economic dominance — to direct rule, bringing about colonial imperialism.