Interesting map of northeastern Africa from the period of the 'Scramble for Africa', when European powers first divided the region into colonial domains.
The map embraces Africa from the headwaters of Great Lakes and down the Nile River to Egypt, as well as the coastal areas from Libya eastward and then through the Red Sea down to the Horn of Africa. Until the 1880s, European powers had generally failed to maintain a permanent presence in the region. Indeed, it was only during the previous generation that the interior regions, such as the sources of the Nile and Congo rivers and the Great Lakes had been explored by Europeans. In 1880, much of Africa remained the only non-polar regions of the world to be free of European colonization and its descendent states. However, the decline in the power of the Ottoman Empire (which nominally controlled North Africa and the Red Sea), combined with an aggressive race for colonial power amongst European nations created a unique circumstance known as the 'Scramble for Africa. In this race for control of the uncolonized parts of the continent, traditional colonial hegemons such as Britain, France and Portugal were joined by new powers such as Germany, Italy (both recently united into single nation states) and Belgium. While various players made moves towards founding new colonies in the early 1880s, it was not until the Berlin Conference of 1885 that the European powers officially divided up the continent into zones of control.
Shown here is Egypt, which in 1882 became a British protectorate and, further up the Nile, Sudan, which, after much difficulty, nominally fell under British-Egyptian suzeraintly in the late 1880s. Further down the Red Sea, is Eritrea, which became an Italian colony in 1882, and French Somaliland (Djibouti), founded in 1883. Across the sea, Hejaz (western Saudi Arabia) is shown to still be under Ottoman rule, while, in the far south of the map, can be found German East Africa (Tanzania) and British East Africa (Kenya and Uganda), and in the southwest, the Belgian Congo. The map notably features an inset detailing the city of Massaua (Massawa), an important Red Sea port, and the first capital of Italian Eritrea.
Interesting features of the map include the Europeans' ambitious plans for delveloping transportation routes and infrastructure in Africa. Numerous shipping routes project from the ports, delineated by red lines, with particualr emphasis on travel thorugh the Suez Canal, linking the Red Sea with the Mediterranean, completed in 1869. The map also features numerous projected railway lines, including the genesis of Cecil Rhodes' ambitious (yet never realized) 'Cape to Cairo' railway running the length of Africa entirely within British dominions.
A fascinating artifiact of the 'Scramble for Africa' period.