Explain why it was so important for European leaders to peacefully divide Africa. The main dominant powers of the conference were France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Portugal. The Berlin Conference and the Treaty of Berlin took place in Berlin from 15 November 1884 to 26 February 1885. The conference was convened by the Kingdom of Portugal and organized by German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck to solve the problems of colonial expansion in Africa and resolve the battle for Africa. Although most of these African colonies were controlled by nations, the Berlin conference allowed King Leopold II of Belgium to become the sole owner of the vast territory that is now the Democratic Republic of Congo in Central Africa. This area was given to Leopold by the other European powers with the intention that it would be a free trade area for all Europeans in Africa. Leopold accepted this provision and brought Christian missionaries within this region, but in practice he kept away from most other European traders, making concessions to various companies to use the resources of the region. In 1908, it was learned that, under king Leopold`s orders, the natives of Congo were forced to cultivate wild rubber as a form of tax payment to the colonial government. Those who could not reach their rubber levels had often cut off a hand or a foot or were killed by Leopold`s agents. When news of these abuses of power was made public, King Leopold was deprived of his colony and the Congo region was ruled by the Belgian government until its independence in 1960. Some argued that the conference was at the centre of imperialism. African-American historian W.
E.B. Du Bois wrote in 1948 that in addition to the Atlantic slave trade in Africa, a major modern-day global movement is “the division of Africa after the Franco-German war, which prospered colonial imperialism with the Berlin Conference of 1884” and that “the first reality of imperialism in Africa today is economic” to explain the acquisition of the continent`s wealth.  Inevitably, the struggle for territory led to conflicts between European powers, particularly between the British and the French in West Africa; Egypt, the Portuguese and the British in East Africa; and the French king and King Leopold II in the Central African Republic. The rivalry between Great Britain and France led Bismarck to intervene and, at the end of 1884, he convened a meeting of European powers in Berlin. In subsequent meetings, Great Britain, France, Germany, Portugal and King Leopold II negotiated their claims on African territory, which were then formalized and mapped.