After witnessing the political and economic rivalries between European empires in the last quarter of the 19th century, the formal partition of Africa prevented European countries from fighting on the territory. The conference was an opportunity to channel latent European hostilities outward, to create new areas for European expansion in the face of the growing interests of the United States, Russia and Japan, and to create a constructive dialogue to limit future hostilities. In the last years of the 19th century, informal imperialism went from « informal imperialism, » through military influence and economic domination, to direct domination that led to colonial imperialism. This principle, along with other writings at the conference, allowed Europeans to « conquer » Africa while doing as little as possible to manage or control it. At the time of the conference, the principle of effective occupation did not apply so much to the hinterland of Africa. This is where the « backcountry theory » was born, which basically gave any coastal colonial power the right to claim political influence over an indefinite area within the country. As Africa was irregularly formed, this theory caused problems and was subsequently rejected. 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.