1874 Mitchell Atlas of the World - Africa shows the continent when the slave economy was in the process of being displaced by Europeans (most notably the British), and the "Scamble for Africa", colonization for natural resources, was in full throttle. The map shows the political entities of the time, with large interior areas "Unknown", and the important trade routes through the Sahara Desert with the culmination at Timbucktoo.
In the second half of the nineteenth century, established empires, notably Britain, Portugal and France, had already claimed for themselves vast areas of Africa, and emerging imperial powers like Italy and Germany had done likewise on a smaller scale. With the dismissal of the aging Chancellor Bismarck by Kaiser Wilhelm II, the relatively orderly colonisation became a frantic scramble. The 1885 Berlin Conference, initiated by Bismarck to establish international guidelines for the acquisition of African territory, formalised this "New Imperialism". Between the Franco-Prussian War and the Great War, Europe added almost 9 million square miles (23,000,000 km²)—one-fifth of the land area of the globe—to its overseas colonial possessions. Vincent Khapoya notes the great self-esteem some European states felt at possessing territory many times larger than themselves. He adds the significant contribution made by Africans to struggle among the great powers. (Wikipedia)