African colonization & independence

In case you need a quick reference for a country’s colonial history and date of independence, here’s a useful map, via Cherokee Gothic.


Unfortunately it does have a few errors.  It doesn’t mention the earlier German colonization of Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania, and wrongly lists Namibia as gaining independence from Germany in 1990.  Namibian colonial rule was transferred from Germany to South Africa in 1919, and the country became independent from South Africa in 1990.  (Thanks to Charles Tellier, Jakob Haentjes and Danny Wijnhoud for pointing this out.)  The map also suggests that Liberia was never colonized, which isn’t true – the modern state was founded by the American Colonization Society as a refuge for former slaves.  (Thanks for Matt Jones for this one.)


3 thoughts on “African colonization & independence

  1. I understand that this is a map of European colonization, and I am also aware that on such maps of 19th century Africa it is commonplace to show Liberia as in the same category as Ethiopia—that is, “not colonized.” However, I don’t really understand this classification. Liberia was colonized—by Americans. The concept of Liberia was invented and implemented by the American Colonization Society. It did not exist as a coherent entity previously, much less was it recognized as independent by other states making such judgements. It was not an ancient empire like Ethiopia, and it’s coastal development by non-Africans systematically subjected the interior communities and civilizations to its centralized rule, very similar to other West African colonies.


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