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Expansion




The second period of empire-building took place in the late 19th century. At that time Britain was one of the leading economic and political powers in the world, and wanted to protect her interests and also increase her international influence by obtaining new lands. It was also thought by some people to be a matter of moral obligation and destiny to run poorer, less advanced countries and to pass on European culture to the native inhabitants. This was what Rudyard Kipling called 'the white man's burden'.

Hong Kong was important both for trade with China and for strategic (= political and military) reasons, and became a British colony in 1842. It later became an important business centre.

In 1858, following the Indian Mutiny, India was placed under the direct control of the British Government and a viceroy replaced the Governor-General. British influence in India had expanded from a few trading stations into the Raj (= British rule). India brought Britain great wealth and strategic advantage, and was called 'the jewel in the crown' of the Empire. Local Indian rulers were allowed to remain in power provided they were loyal to the viceroy. Many British people spent years working in India as civil servants, engineers, police officers, etc. and took their families with them. By about 1880 the British in India had developed a distinct lifestyle which is described in E M Forster's A Passage to India and Paul Scott's The Raj Quartet.

In Africa, the Cape of Good Hope was important to Britain because it was on the sea route to India. It was bought from the Boers in 1815, and British settlers went out to live there alongside the Boers. There were many problems between them and in 1836 the Boers left to found the Orange Free State, Transvaal and Natal. In 1889 Cecil Rhodes formed the British South Africa Company which took over land further north in what came to be called Rhodesia. In 1910, after the second Boer War, the Cape, Natal, the Transvaal and Orange Free State formed the Union of South Africa.

Between about 1870 and 1900 Britain, Belgium, France, Italy and Germany took part in what came to be called the scramble for Africa. The journeys of explorers and missionaries (= religious teachers) like David Livingstone encouraged interest in the interior of Africa, and gaining control of these areas became important for national pride as well as providing new opportunities for trade. In 1884 the European nations, in an attempt at cooperation, agreed spheres of influence. Britain's colonies in West Africa were the Gold Coast (now Ghana), Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Gambia. In East Africa, countries that were acquired as protectorates (= states controlled and protected by Britain) included the East African Protectorate (now Kenya), Uganda, Somaliland, Zanzibar, Northern and Southern Rhodesia (now Zambia and Zimbabwe) and Nyasaland (now Malawi). After World War I Britain also administered the former German colony of Tanganyika which later joined with Zanzibar to form Tanzania.

 


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