German colonial empire

The German colonial empire (German: Deutsches Kolonialreich) constituted the overseas colonies, dependencies and territories of Imperial Germany. Unified in the early 1870s, the chancellor of this time period was Otto von Bismarck. Short-lived attempts at colonization by individual German states had occurred in preceding centuries, but Bismarck resisted pressure to construct a colonial empire until the Scramble for Africa in 1884. Claiming much of the left-over uncolonized areas of Africa, Germany built the third-largest colonial empire at the time, after the British and French.[1] The German Colonial Empire encompassed parts of several African countries, including parts of present-day Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Namibia, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, Central African Republic, Chad, Nigeria, Togo, Ghana, as well as northeastern New Guinea, Samoa and numerous Micronesian islands. Including mainland Germany, the empire had a total land area of 3,503,352 square kilometers and population of 80,125,993 people.

German Colonial Empire
Deutsches Kolonialreich
Coat of arms
German colonies and protectorates in 1914
StatusColonial empire
Common languagesGerman

Swahili, Rwanda-Rundi (Burundi, Rwanda, Buha kingdom in Tanzania), Arabic (East African colonies)
Oshiwambo, Afrikaans (South West Africa)

Tsingtao Chinese and Mandarin Chinese (Tianjin and Kiautschou Bay)
Papuan languages (German New Guinea)
Samoan (German Samoa)
19122,962,495 km2 (1,143,826 sq mi)
An East African Askari soldier holding Germany's colonial flag

Germany lost control of its colonial empire when the First World War began in 1914, with all of its colonies being invaded by Allied forces during the first weeks of the war. However, a number of colonial military forces held out longer. German troops in South West Africa and Kamerun surrendered in 1915 and 1916, respectively, while forces under Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck fought a guerilla campaign in East Africa which tied down allied troops until 1918, only surrendering after the end of the war.

Germany's colonial empire was officially dissolved with the Treaty of Versailles after Germany's defeat in the war and where each colony became a League of Nations mandate under the supervision (but not ownership) of one of the victorious powers. The German colonial empire ceased to exist in 1919.[2] Plans to regain their lost colonial possessions persisted through the Second World War, with many at the time suspecting that this was a goal of the Third Reich.[3]

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