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Europe's colonial expansion : colonization of Africa, colonization of Asia, Indian Empire, French Colonial Empire, British Empire, colonies and colonial empires of European countries

Authors : Jean-Louis PRETINI, Alexis BERCHADSKY with the participation of Juliette HONVAULT

For online access to this series of 19 historical maps


L'expansion coloniale de l'Europe 1820-1939

Europe's colonial expansion, 1820-1939

European countries began exploring and seeking to dominate the rest of the world during the 15th and 16th centuries, thanks to their ability to control sea routes and to the discovery of the American continent. In the 19th century, energized by the industrial revolution and under pressure from a rapidly growing population, Europe launched a new period of colonial expansion, inspired by the discovery of new markets, new areas for the settlement of Europe’s poor migrants, and the desire to " civilize the barbarian nations ".

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This series contains 19 animated historical maps. For a preview, see the map on :

The British Empire: Trading Routes and Construction

European Imperialism in the 19th Century

The industrial revolution and pressure from a growing population in Europe led to a new phase of colonial expansion.


Emigration of Europeans to the Far Corners of the World

During the 19th century, European emigration towards the ‘new worlds’ contributed to the spread of Europe’s political, economic and cultural influence.


The British Empire: Trading Routes and Construction

The United Kingdom’s unchallenged command of the seas played a major role in the development of its colonial empire.


The British Empire: Statutes and Administration

With the development of new forms of rule for its dominions and Crown colonies, the British Empire developed into a colonial mosaic.


France and its Colonies

After 1815, France was stripped of most of its first colonial empire.


The Conquest of Algeria

The most important phases of the colonization of Algeria after France’s intervention in 1830, decided by Charles X.


Algeria: Colonization and Settlement

Once the conquest was complete, the settlement of European colonials consolidated France’s occupation.


Conquest of Africa: a period of incubation

In the early 19th century, the European presence in Africa was limited to trading posts scattered along the coast.


Conquest of Africa: The Scramble for Territory

After the Conference of Berlin (1884-1885), European nations rivaled for territory in Africa.


Exploring Africa

Throughout the 19th century, European powers sent out explorers, scientific expeditions and military forces to establish their presence as colonial powers.


Resistance and Uprisings in the African Sahel

A number of ancient and more recent African states displayed solid resistance to the European powers and to their efforts to penetrate Africa’s hinterland.


European Expansion in the Far East, 1820-1860

Territorial gains were relatively limited during this period, but the Opium Wars and the imposition of one-sided treaties on Asian countries heralded a new period of European expansion.


European Expansion in the Far East 1860-1939

New territorial expansion by European countries and intervention by new imperialist powers.


The British Empire in India

Territories controlled by the British East Indies Company and the construction of a vast Asian empire.


Conquest and resistance in French Indochina

In 1887, Cambodia, Cochin China, Annam and Tonkin formed the Indochinese Union, which was later extended to include Laos, but France had difficulty controlling these territories.


Imperial Competition in Central and Eastern Asia (c. 1860-1914)

Colonial expansion in Asia encouraged rivalry among the Powers, particularly Russia, England and France, but also the United States and Japan.


Dividing up the Middle East

In the early 19th century, the Middle East was dominated by two empires already in decline: Persia and the Ottoman Empire,


Egypt after Napoleon’s Expedition

Following Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt, the country’s leaders sought to introduce modernization and emancipation from Istanbul but, faced with financial difficulties, gradually came under British domination.


French and British Mandates in the Middle-East

After the First World War, France and Great Britain were given mandates for administrating the Middle East by the League of Nations.



Europe's colonial expansion : colonization of Africa, colonization of Asia, Indian Empire, French Colonial Empire, British Empire, colonies and colonial empires of European countries

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