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Before 1869, Britain only controlled a small amount of land in Africa. The British concentrated on imperialism in other, more profitable places around the world; places that would give them more markets for trade and more opportunity to increase their economy. Suddenly, the British were annexing land in places like Egypt and South Africa; in 1869 these were places that did not have monetary value.

Before the 1870's, thanks to the influence of Livingstone, the main reason for British imperialism in Africa was to bring Christianity and European-brand civilization to African countries. They also practiced imperialism for trade purposes, but very little in Africa. The British economy has always depended heavily on trade, and Britain did want the West Coast of Africa for its palm oil. They took control of it simply because the native political structure was too unstable for good commerce without British control. For trade purposes, they concentrated on practicing imperialism in India and the Caribbean. Since the slave trade in Europe was stamped out in the 1830's, the British were not very interested in Africa. People had been one of the few resources they were interested in. However, after the 1870's, the motivations behind British imperialism in Africa changed drastically, for several reasons.

Probably the greatest reason the British annexed land in Africa after 1869 was to protect their biggest money maker: India. In 1869 the French completed the Suez canal in Egypt. This was a quick route to India, but if another country had control of the canal, the possibility existed that they would cut off the British and take India for themselves. In 1875 the British had their opportunity: they bought shares in the canal from the Khedive of Egypt and gained control of it.



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