This video is part of a series of 19 animated maps.

View series: Europe's colonial expansion, 1820-1939

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Imperial Competition in Central and Eastern Asia (c. 1860-1914)

This map is part of a series of 19 animated maps showing the history of Europe's colonial expansion, 1820-1939.

Colonial expansion in Asia nurtured competition between the European powers as they sought to defend their possessions and strategic and commercial interests.

Among the older colonial powers, a major conflict arose between Great Britain and Russia over Persia and Afghanistan. The British fought two wars against the Russian influence in Afghanistan, and this led to the establishment of the Indian-Afghan frontier along the Durand line, and Russian recognition of British domination of the country in 1907.

At the same time, the two powers redefined their spheres of influence in Persia, while

Tibet and Xinjiang came under British and Russian control, respectively. 

Disputes between France and England concentrated mostly on Indochina: an agreement signed in 1896 fixed the frontiers between Laos and Burma and guaranteed the neutrality of a large part of Siam. This created a buffer zone between the French sphere of influence to the East and the regions under British control in Burma and Malaysia.

But new imperial powers were becoming more important: rivalry pushed Japan and Russia into war; victorious, Japan was free to annex Korea, the southern part of Sakhalin and assumed commercial “rights” in Southern Manchuria.

Meanwhile, the United States chased the Spanish out of the Philippines, and annexed the archipelago.