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During the last 60 years of the 19th Century Europe’s attentions all focused on Africa in what is now being called the “Scramble for Africa.” By the start of the 1900s almost no part of Africa remained untouched by European powers, and many countries were under strict military rule of European countries. What started off in the early days of exploration and discovery as colonisation and trading posts, ended up as a fight for dominance of another continent.
There were a number of driving forces behind the colonisation of Africa by European forces, the main one being financial gain due to trade ties and exportation of natural resources. The slave trade had been a big draw in the early days but by the 1900s the main reason for occupation was raw goods.
Portuguese Colonies in Africa
Angola - From 1575 until 1975 Portuguese West Africa (now known as Angola) was under Portuguese rule. During this time there were many battles and conflicts with local tribes as well as other foreign occupants.
Mozambique - From 1498 until 1975 Portuguese East Africa (now known as Mozambique) was under Portuguese rule. It was the policy of the Portuguese government to make all citizens of their foreign colonies full Portuguese citizens and to Europeanize them as much as possible, teaching them new ways, language, and allowing them to have political rights. Trade was strong between the countries, and this was one of the main reasons that the colonies were not given independence sooner than 1975.
Guinea-Bissau - From 1474 to 1974 Portuguese Guinea (now known as Guinea-Bissau) was under Portuguese rule. Early settlers in the region were looking for gold, but as time progressed the region became extremely important for salt, kola, textiles and other goods. The slave trade on the Atlantic coast of Africa was another reason for colonisation, and an estimated 11 million slaves were exported from Africa between 1440 and 1870.
Ouidah - Ouidah was an extremely important location for European slave traders, and from the early 1700s onwards several European countries built fortresses in the region to protect their interests. From 1721 until 1961 Portugal maintained a strong presence here and during that time had a strong influence over the local culture. The king of the local tribes allowed Portuguese to be the only foreign language that was allowed to be spoken by the locals, and it was kept as a main trading post long after the slave trade was over.
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