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The Conference of Berlin (1884-1885)

There was a risk of conflict between colonial countries in the "Scramble for Africa". Like our own games of Monopoly, Diplomacy or Risk, some rules had to be written down if the game was to be played in an orderly manner.

All the European powers and the USA met in Berlin in 1885. It was decided that King Leopold of Belgium could have his claim to the huge Congo Basin. It was also decided that new colonies had to be "effectively occupied". It was not enough simply to put up a flag and say the region was yours. You also had to officially defend and administer the area if you wanted other countries to recognise your claim.

A Punch cartoon depicting King Leopold of Belgium's aggressive occupation of the Congo

A Punch cartoon depicting King Leopold of Belgium's aggressive occupation of the Congo.

 

 

 

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Shirley Burchill, Nigel Hughes, Richard Gale, Peter Price and Keith Woodall 2014

Footnote : As far as the Open Door team can ascertain the images shown on this page are in the Public Domain.