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Why are some regions plagued by seemingly endless instability?According to this view, while the "lines in the sand" drawn by the diplomats Mark Sykes and Francois Georges-Picot served the short-term interests of the colonial powers, the arbitrary partition of the region spurred a century of violence, organized and otherwise.Whether or not the Sykes-Picot Agreement is the main reason for the Middle East's troubles, one thing is certain: The imposition of capriciously drawn borders by colonial powers has not been a uniquely Middle Eastern phenomenon. During the "Scramble for Africa" (which lasted from roughly the late 1860s until 1905), European powers signed hundreds of bilateral and multilateral agreements that partitioned the largely unexplored continent into protectorates, free-trade areas and colonies. Second, vast geographic differences across ethnic homelands in many African countries, together with these countries' sprawling size and inadequate infrastructure left by the colonial powers, has meant that national governments have struggled to govern effectively beyond the metropoles.The list goes on, affecting around 400 million-500 million Africans (roughly 40 percent of the continent's total population).The long-run consequences of colonial ethnic partitioning on contemporary political violence are profound. There is no denying that external powers' mapmaking has had a powerful influence on Africa's development.
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