Italy, like Germany, did not complete reunification until after the Franco-Prussian War ended in 1871 and, consequently, was a latecomer to colonialism, the ‘Scramble for Africa’. Italy was a relatively young empire and lacked the many possessions of France and Great Britain. In 1911, Italy declared war on the Ottoman Empire (1911–12), which was so enfeebled by this stage that Italy easily took possession of both the provinces comprising Libya and the Dodecanese Islands in the Aegean. In what was later become a contentious issue, Italy joined the Allied side in World War I on the understanding that it would take some of Germany’s colonies in the event of victory. By 1914, Italy had annexed Eritrea and Italian Somaliland, both of which it acquired in 1889 by treaties with Ethiopia and the sultans of Somalia in 1889.
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