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Content Overview

Unit 8: c. 1900-Present


Summary: After the World Wars, nearly all European colonies achieved independence

Causes of Decolonization

List of Causes of Decolonization

Declining European Power

After the World Wars, Western Europe was economically devastated, and European nations didn't have the resources to cater to their colonies

US & USSR Opposed Colonialism

Before World Wars, global power was concentrated in Western Europe. After WW2, global power shifted to US & USSR, both of which opposed colonialism

Enlightenment Principles

Many colonists came to Europe to study → Learned about Enlightenment ideas such as freedom & equality → Spread those ideas to their colonies

Strong Independence Movements

Due to the spread of Enlightenment ideas, many colonies had strong nationalist or independence movements


1. Indian National Congress
2. Pan-African Nationalism

Events of Decolonization

Partition of India (1947)

British India had many Muslims → Muslims feared that under an independent India, Muslims would be persecuted by the Hindu majority → Muslims wanted a separate Muslim nation → British India split into secular India & Muslim Pakistan

Independence of African Nations

Kwame Nkrumah

Ghana was 1st African nation to get independence. Kwame Nkrumah led its independence & served as a model for other African colonies

Year of Africa (1960)

France gave all is colonies (except Algeria) independence in 1960 so that it could cater more resources to its main colony, Algeria

Algerian Independence War (1954-62)

Algeria was the last French colony in Africa → Fought a huge war with France → Won independence in 1962

Post-Independence Developments

Chinese Civil War (1927-49)

In 1912, the Qing Dynasty collapsed. China had a civil war between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) & the Chinese Nationalist Party (Guomindang). In 1949, the CCP won, and its leader, Mao Zedong, established a communist state in China (which still exists today)

Apartheid in South Africa

Many White Europeans settled in South Africa due to its strong industrial and mining economy. After South Africa's independence (1961), the Whites instituted a system called Apartheid, which kept the Blacks in South Africa in an inferior position to the Whites. Nelson Mandela led the African National Congress (ANC) to dismantle Apartheid & become South Africa's 1st Black president in 1994

Situation in the Middle East


While the Arab States were rule by Britain & France under the mandate system, they had a revival of Islam, in which they advocated for Islamic rule instead of secular government. In the 1930s, the Arab states got independence from Britain & France

Creation of Israel (1948)

Jews never had a homeland where they were the majority of the population → The UN allocated part of the Arab state of Palestine to the Jews, calling it Israel → Arabs hated it → Conflict between the Arabs & the Jews of Israel

Gamal Abdel Nasser

Gamal Abdel Nasser was one of the first leaders of independent Egypt. He promoted Pan-Arab nationalism & sought to create a united Arab state against the Jews. He promoted economic development in Egypt

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