Which two European nations held control over Lake Victoria in the year 1914?

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By Kristy Tolley

Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa and the second largest freshwater lake in the world, is located in the heart of East Africa. The lake basin is shared by three countries: Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. However, this was not always the case. In the year 1914, two European nations held control over Lake Victoria. This article explores the historical background, the scramble for Africa, and the events that led to the control of Lake Victoria by two European countries.

Historical background

The history of Lake Victoria dates back to the pre-colonial era. The lake was discovered by Europeans in 1858, when John Hanning Speke, a British explorer, first saw the lake and named it after Queen Victoria. The lake quickly became a center of trade and commerce, connecting the interior of East Africa with the coast. However, the lake also became a source of conflict between the different tribes and ethnic groups who lived around it.

Pre-colonial era

Before the arrival of Europeans, the different tribes and ethnic groups around Lake Victoria had their own complex societies and political systems. They traded with each other and with neighboring societies, and the lake played a vital role in this trade. However, the arrival of Europeans changed everything.

The scramble for Africa

The late 19th century saw the scramble for Africa, when European powers raced to claim ownership of African territories. These powers included Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, and Italy. The scramble led to the partition of Africa, where African territories were carved up and divided among European powers.

Uganda and Kenya

Uganda and Kenya were two of the African territories that were claimed by European powers. Uganda was claimed by Britain, while Kenya was claimed by both Britain and Germany. Lake Victoria, which lies between Uganda and Kenya, became a center of conflict between the two countries.

The Berlin Conference

In 1884, a conference was held in Berlin, where European powers agreed to regulate European colonization and trade in Africa. The conference is known as the Berlin Conference and it led to the partition of Africa. The partition was done without regard for existing tribal and ethnic boundaries, leading to conflicts that persist to this day.

British control over Lake Victoria

Britain gained control over Uganda in 1894 and established a protectorate over the country. This gave Britain control over Lake Victoria, which became a vital link in the colonial transportation system. Britain also established trade links with the different tribes and ethnic groups around the lake.

German control over Lake Victoria

Germany claimed control over Kenya in 1885, but Britain disputed this claim. The dispute was resolved in 1890, when Germany recognized Britain’s claim to Kenya. Germany then focused on establishing control over the western part of Lake Victoria, which it claimed as part of its East African colony.

Changes after WWI

World War I saw the defeat of Germany and the end of German colonial rule in East Africa. Britain took over Germany’s colonies in the region, including those around Lake Victoria. This gave Britain complete control over the lake.

The Treaty of Versailles

The Treaty of Versailles, signed in 1919, officially ended World War I and included provisions for the transfer of German colonies to new owners. Under the treaty, Britain gained control over all of Germany’s colonies in East Africa, including those around Lake Victoria.

Legacy of colonialism

The legacy of colonialism in East Africa is still felt today. The arbitrary borders created by European powers have led to conflicts between different tribes and ethnic groups. The exploitation of natural resources, including Lake Victoria, has led to environmental degradation.


In conclusion, Lake Victoria was controlled by two European nations in the year 1914: Britain and Germany. The scramble for Africa and the Berlin Conference led to the partition of Africa and the carving up of African territories by European powers. The legacy of colonialism in East Africa is still felt today, and Lake Victoria remains a vital resource for the region.

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Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

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