continued from » World Economy
From 1500 to 1913, Europe was the most important part of the world due to their colonization, industrialization and imperialism.
Commercialization started in Europe in the 15th century. Britain, Spain and the Netherlands were the main players that started “the New Age”. From then on dynamism and expansion were spreading. Starting by bigger and better boats, better technology, better guns, better navigation, and so on, the nations could compete against each other.
Soon, European voyages of discovery for trade started. They expand to the Americas, just to mention Columbus’ search for trade route. After conquering the Americas, Europe started trading goods with them. As a result of that, the Americans suffered because of disease and spreading brutality through the hands of Europeans.
In the opposite, China wasn’t so keen about merchants (the Europeans’ voyages had been financed by merchants), although China was more developed, had merchant development, and markets. China started explorations around the Indian Ocean, but people didn’t like merchants so that they went to the south of China and conquered that part of the country. Due to that development, a war between the merchants and Ming started, which was won by Ming Dynasty. As a result of the merchants being defeated, the Chinese stopped going abroad.
The Spanish hegemony (1500-1650) had a good military force but not enough knowledge or not the best strategies to survive in the world of economics because they had no commercial society. In 1600s it was the Dutch era because they were fully merchant capitalists. This time is also known as “the Golden Age of Amsterdam” due to their defeat over Spain, merchants went to Amsterdam.
In 1700, the British Empire defeated the Dutch, and then the French. London became the center of the world.
Britain gained more and more dominance in the world:
In the 18th century, Britain spread its influence by more external expansion (more colonies in India, North America and the Caribbean). During the 19th Century Britain’s capital, London became famous for finance, investment and trade (Sterling), so Britain started free trade with its colonies.
The Industrial Revolution “created a new world”. Due to that development, more, better and new things could be produced. New industries created by the Industrial Revolution opened up new places by building factories which attracted workers who needed housings. These factories also attracted suppliers so that more factories and warehouses had been built. The new industries also needed infrastructure meaning roads, water, power, and so on, that process led to economy growth.
The Industrial Revolution didn’t just consist of one revolution, but of several: The first one took place in the 1770s providing textiles, iron and factories. The second revolution was in the 1850s providing machinery, steel and railroads. The third revolution took place in the 1900s because of the appearance of Fordism and electricity. The fourth revolution in the 1940s brought oil, aerospace and plastics with it. The (for now) last revolution in the 1990s was characterized by chips, the internet and information.
In Britain, the first Industrial Revolution led to a historical break (1775). Manchester became the workshop of the world which changed the landscape. Because of its factories, Manchester grew to one of the most important cities of Great Britain. Other major industrial towns are Birmingham, Leads, and of course London. Britain in the 19th century was THE country everybody wanted to catch up with.
The Industrial Revolution was an event which pushed some countries: As the first wave (1800-1850) the Northwest of Europe (Belgium, Wuertemberg, Paris) profited. As the second wave (1850-1900) the importance of France (Paris, St. Etienne), Germany (Ruhr, Berlin, Saxony), Barcelona and Northern Italy grew.
Due to the strong state under Bismarck, Prussian military and rapid industrialization, Germany raced ahead. Its rapid industrialization included heavy industry (Ruhr), science and technology as well as continental power: they defeated France in 1870, and caught Britain in the 1890s.
In the USA, there was a strong development in the northeast (1775-1875), above all in New England and in the Mid-Atlantic (New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, etc.). The Midwest of USA was also on the rise (after 1865). This region became the American industrial belt, so that the US passed the UK in 1900.
In Japan, there was the Meiji Revolution in 1868, so than Japan caught up with the West. Japan was led to industrialization, militarization and expansion. To catch up with the West, they sent students abroad. Japan defeated China. In 1905, Japan was on war with Korea and Taiwan. Japan defeated not just them, but also Russia. During that time, Japan’s economy grew as fast as the US economy.
The industrialization of Russia (after 1865) ended feudal agriculture, but it was still a czarist-state. Russian disintegration started with the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05) which led to the first revolution (1906).