Decolonisation of Africa

An animated map shows the order of independence of African nations, 1950–2011.

The decolonization of Africa took place in the mid-to-late 1950s and 1960s, with sudden and radical regime changes on the continent as colonial governments made the transition to independent states; this was often quite unorganized and marred with violence and political turmoil. There was widespread unrest and organized revolts in both Northern and sub-Saharan colonies, especially in French Algeria, Portuguese Angola, the Belgian Congo and British Kenya.[1][2][3][4][5]


European control in 1939

The "Scramble for Africa" between 1870 and 1900 ended with almost all of Africa being controlled by a small number of European states. Racing to secure as much land as possible while avoiding conflict amongst themselves, the partition of Africa was confirmed in the Berlin Agreement of 1885, with little regard to local differences.[6][7] By 1905, control of almost all African soil was claimed by Western European governments, with the only exceptions being Liberia (which had been settled by African-American former slaves) and Ethiopia (then occupied by Italy in 1936).[8] Britain and France had the largest holdings, but Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, and Portugal also had colonies. As a result of colonialism and imperialism, a majority of Africa lost sovereignty and control of natural resources such as gold and rubber. The introduction of imperial policies surfacing around local economies led to the failing of local economies due to an exploitation of resources and cheap labor.[9] Progress towards independence was slow up until the mid-20th century. By 1977, 54 African countries had seceded from European colonial rulers.[10]