African Independence

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 12288

Should countries take over other lands so they can grow richer and more powerful? There was a time when a few countries "owned" other peoples. Discover how Africa became a land of many new countries!



learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Where do countries come from? What happens when a people don't want to be run by another country and want to break free? The continent of Africa has the answers!

Many countries in the world set aside a special holiday to mark their independence, or the day in history that their country was freed from the control of another country.

In the United States, Americans celebrate July 4 as their “Independence Day,” the date on which early American leaders declared in 1776 that Great Britain no longer controlled them.

Great Britain and several other European countries would remain in control of many other parts of the world, however. This period, known as the era of European colonialism, lasted from the sixteenth century through the mid-twentieth century.

Colonialism was the practice of taking control over a foreign place and people in order to build power and wealth. Colonialism is as old as history, but never before had nations dominated so much of the Earth and for so long. There was a popular saying, “The sun never sets on the British Empire,” used to describe the fact that the British held colonies all over the world.

Learn more about colonialism by exploring a map* from the period of European colonialism. As you examine the map, write down the answers to these questions:

  • Which countries held foreign colonies in 1900?
  • Which country held the most colonies at the time?
  • Which continent was the most colonized by European countries at the time?

*Now, look at the map, European Colonies c. 1900, from TinyPic®, and answer the questions. Share your information with your parent or teacher, then discuss:

  • What might cause one country to occupy another one?
  • What do you think might be some effects of colonialism?

You may have noticed that the European countries had more colonies in Africa than any other continent.

In the Got It? section, uncover the story of how the countries of Africa gained their independence.

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