From Encyclopedia of Race and Racism
The Berlin Conference (1884–1885) occurred after the culmination of the era of free trade (1830–1880), a period characterized by the exploration and occupation of the African interior by various European countries, including France, Portugal, and Germany. Although the Berlin Conference did not formally “carve up” the African continent, it did serve as the catalyst for the colonial project. By the beginning of the twentieth century, European nations occupied more than 90 percent of the African continent. Only three countries were able to maintain their territorial integrity: Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Ethiopia. The colonial era fundamentally redrew the map of Africa and altered the continent's social, political, and economic structure in ways still felt in the present day.