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AP World History Timeline
Transcript of AP World History Timeline
Inequality as a Social Norm
Civilization vs. Nomads
Transition into the Classical Era
Around 10,000 BCE, humans began to cultivate crops and domesticate certain animals. This "Neolithic Revolution" marked the beginning of the Foundations Era by creating conditions that ultimately lead to the creation of the first human civilizations. The start of the Classical Era began when new, more complex and enduring civilizations emerge, built off the existing patterns of River Valley Civilizations.
Transition out of the Classical Era
The exchange of goods and services took place on an individual basis, but also on local, regional, and transregional levels. Within societies, trade led to the formation of marketplaces and strengthened contacts among villages, cities, and rural communities. Connections created by regional and transregional trade spread ideas, beliefs, and technologies over great distances. (Ex. Silk Road and the Indian Ocean Trade Network)
Between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago, modern humans arose in East Africa and then migrated outward to the rest of the globe. Around 12,000 years ago, the last ice ages ended, bringing warmer climates. These environmental changes, along with the development of pastoralism and agriculture, lead to drastic population increase among Stone Age humans. By around 5,000 years ago, the earliest civilizations took shape. These core civilizations gave birth to the first states and empires (states that expand by means of military conquest).
The transition from hunter-forager societies to pastoral and agricultural societies introduced a new concept known as social stratification. This form of class distinction separated specialized laborers (warriors, priests, artisans, etc.) from other members of the community, This lead to the development of a system dedicated to ranking social classes, known as a hierarchy. In most civilizations at this time, elites cemented their hierarchy using "belief systems". At the bottom of this social hierarchy are those whose labor is coerced (slavery and serfdom). In most parts of the world, political and religious leadership have been dominated by males, making these societies patriarchal.
The transition out of the Classical Era was marked by the internal decline of classical civilizations and nomadic incursions. The classical civilizations of Han China and the Roman Empire declined because of decadence, corruption, and the role of new diseases from Silk Road. Nomadic invasions also played a part in the transition. The Germanic tribes in Europe and the Huns in China contributed. The spread of world religions such as Christianity from Middle East and Buddhism from India to China were causes as well.
Post Classical Era
Transition out of Post-Classical Era
Transition into the Post-Classical Era
The collapse of the western half of the Roman Empire and dynastic decline in East Asia coupled with the decline of the Gupta Empire in India created the conditions for a new civilization to rise upon the ashes of other civilizations. Arab nomads from the Arabian peninsula create a new monotheistic religion based on the tenants of Judaism and Christianity, and unite and ultimately conquer a territory that stretched from Spain to India. They eventually built upon Greek, Roman, and Persian precedents to create one of the most dynamic civilizations in world history.
Internal decline of Post Classical civilizations and Nomadic Invasions. The Mongols conquer the Eurasian landmass in the 1200's, significantly changing the landscape and balance of power within the known world. Ultimately, the Mongols create a power vacuum in the Middle East filled later by the Ottomans. This helps West Europe gain important advantages through trading links that allows the West to rise, among other effects.
Transition into the Early Modern Era
The rise of Western Europe mark a transition into the Early Modern Era. Discovery and colonization of New World, coupled with new trade routes into Indian Ocean, brought new wealth, ideas, and power to West Europe. This helped transform West Europe into a dynamic global civilization. Additionally, the formation of other large land-based empires such as the Ottoman, Russian, Mughal, and Ming Empires.
Transition out of Early Modern Era
It was in Europe that the Industrial Revolution began, and it was there that capitalism emerged. These changes transformed the economies of the world, marking the emergence into the modern age.
Transition into Modern Era
The Industrial Revolution transforms Western Europe from an agricultural society into a modern industrial powerhouse with unprecedented ability to control the earth's resources through mechanized production.
Early Modern Era
Transition out of the Modern Era
World War I alters the balance of power in the world and marks a significant shift of power away from Western Europe and towards other industrial powers, including the United States, Japan, and ultimately Russia. World War I also causes the increase of nationalist sentiments across the world, in particular within the imperialist possessions of the European colonial powers. These nationalist movements ultimately lead to independence after World War II.
Transition into the Post Modern Era
The relative decline of Western European power based on the disruptive nature of the world wars and the end of the colonial era, as well as the rise of other industrial powers, including the United States, Russia, and Japan.
Post Modern Era
Spread of World Religions
Rise of Islam
Dar Islam: World Trading Network
Expansion of Civilization: Inter-Regional Contacts
Un-Free Labor Systems
Western Science and Technology 1.0
The World Trade Network 2.0
Western European merchants bring the Atlantic, the Americas, and the Pacific into the World Trade Network. The massive impact of the Columbian Exchange diminishes the importance of the Silk Roads and the Indian Ocean Trade Network. The Europeans circumvent these "middle man routes", seizing control of World Trade.
The Columbian Exchange brings the Americas and Afro-Eurasia together for the first time as European merchants transport animals, plants, diseases, and ideas to both sides of the Atlantic.
The global economy spurs the development of four un-free labor systems: the Mita system in Latin America, Serfdom in Russia, Trans-Saharan Slavery to Arabia. and most extensive of all, the Atlantic Slave Trade.
The gunpowder empires formed large political units. New empires rose in India, southeastern Europe, Russia, and the Middle East. Western Europeans built extensive empires in the Americas, with New Spain being foremost.
New technology was the key to power as European rational approaches helped science uncover natural laws in mechanics, physics, biology, and chemistry.
Demography: Growth and Mobility
World Trade Network 3.0: Fossil Fuels
Environment: Alter and Exploit
Industrialization and Imperialism
Reaction to the West: Copy or Resist
The steam engine is the first transportable power source. Applied to water, the steam ship frees sailors from the wind. Applied to land, the locomotive gives man the power to move goods and people quickly. Steam shrinks the world. Applied to work, factories multiply labor immensely giving industrialized economies dominance over the Global Economy.
The non-European cultures must respond to Western hegemony. Some copy, namely Russia, the United States, and Japan. Most resist, with varying degrees of failure. Africa, South Asia, and southeast Asia are conquered. East Asia is dominated and Latin America gains political independence, but falls under economic dependence.
New World crops (potato!) introduced into the Old World drive dramatic population increases. Large population shifts occur as Europeans move to the Americas and Australia.
Industrialization begins man's major alteration of the environment. The need for energy sees the rise of the fossil fuel-driven machine. Coal, then oil, are in great demand. Air and water pollution result. Railroads cut across the landscape, followed by telegraph/telephone/power lines.
Trade demands shift from spices to coal and other fossil fuels. Western core nation dominate trade as they colonize in search of markets and raw materials.
Global Conflict and Decolonization
Global Science and Technology
World Trade Network 4.0: Environment vs. Economy
European hegemony declines and then collapses after two world wars in the first half of the twentieth century. Rising "New Nationalism" in their colonial empires combined with the devastation wrought by those world wars, forces Western Europe to leave their empires by 1980. This decolonization occurs within the Superpower "Cold War" between the Soviet Union and the United States. The Islamic Civil War leads to the rise of global terrorism in the later part of this era.
Global trade and industrialization expand the need for fossil fuels and accelerate damage to the earth's ecosystem. Sustainability of the industrial economy is in question.
Technology fosters the rise of mass communication. Radio, television, and the internet permit individuals, and entire cultures, to influence a national, and global audience.
The women's movement rises in the West; fighting for suffrage, reproductive, and working rights. Humans in general struggle for freedom as technology empowers the state over the individual.
Breakthroughs in physics, biology, and chemistry provide new technologies, including space rockets, nuclear power, genetic engineering, and wonder drugs. Big Science however has a dark side that threatens humanity.
As classical civilizations expanded their geographic base, new lands and peoples were incorporated into their respective civilizations. Unifying belief systems were developed that helped bond people together and create unity and stability. These shared beliefs also influenced and reinforced political, economic, and occupational stratification. Literature and drama acquired distinctive forms that influenced artistic developments in neighboring regions and in later time periods.
Islamic civilizations, initially spread by Arabs, spearheaded the creation of a new empire centered in the Middle East and spread through North Africa to the east and India to the west. Islamic culture mixes with Greek and Persian influences to help spark a dynamic intellectual period of advances in the arts and sciences. Arab commerce spread across the Indian Ocean to the western Pacific, down the east coast of Africa, and across the Sahara Desert, creating a new and expanded network.
Civilization expanded during the Post Classical to include Eastern and Western Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, Korea, and Japan. Many of these new civilization's centers actively imitated established civilizations. Both within and between regions, contacts among major societies could lead to conflict, but also important economic, technological, and cultural exchanges.
The Post Classical Era was defined by the spread of major religions across much of Asia, Europe, and Africa. Buddhism spread to East and Southeast Asia. Islam ran across the Middle East and North Africa and became an important minority religion in India, western China, and parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. Christianity spread northward in Europe, both to eastern and western Europe.
Even if they did not form civilizations, migrating pastoralists influenced those who did. Established civilizations were constantly threatened by invading migrants, such as the conquering Hyksos people of Egypt and the looming steppe nomads in Central Asia. Such pressures typically caused settled civilizations to become more effective at building walls and other defenses, and also to adopt new military techniques. Conflicts between cities gave rise to increasingly professional armies and the art of siege warfare.
Changes in transportation, state policies,
and mercantile practices contributed to the expansion and development of commercial networks. These commercial networks served as a passage for cultural, technological, and biological diffusion within and between societies. Expanding networks lead to greater interregional borrowing, while at the same time keeping regional diversity. The prophet Muhammad promoted Islam, a new
monotheistic religion. It spread quickly through practices of trade, warfare, and diffusion during this period.
Human agency entails the claim that humans do in fact make decisions and enact them on the world. Rulers in the Post Classical Era made decisions that impacted the entire globe in different ways. An example of one of these "Human Agents" is the Prophet Mohammad, who founded the Islamic religion, which was perhaps the most earth-shaking cultural trend of this period.
The fourth river valley civilization emerged in China, along the Huang He (or Yellow River) in the north. The first historically verifiable dynasty was the Shang dynasty, which emerged on the banks of the Huang He around 1750 BCE. The Shang was led by a warrior aristocracy, and with their army were able to defeat their northern and western neighbors. This allowed China to expand its borders by conquest. The Shang traded extensively, and their trade network stretched as far as the Middle East. Principle items included jade and silk. The next dynasty, the Zhou (founded mid-1000s BCE), preserved Shang traditions and also added innovations of their own. The Qin and Han dynasties came after. The Qin dynasty (221-206 BCE) united much of China by ending the "Warring States" period and the Qin also 3ended slavery, but this was just to gain laborers and tax income. The Han dynasty (206-220 CE) expanded China hundreds of miles in all directions and developed Calvary warfare that allowed them to repel steppe nomads. Han rulers adopted the Confucian belief system, which emphasized a strong hierarchical system.
After the Han dynasty's fall in 220 CE, China alternated between periods of political unity and fragmentation. The first notable dynasty to emerge after the fall was the Tang (618-906 CE). Under the Tang, China became larger than it had ever been before, with China's rule extending to parts of Central Asia, Mongolia, Manchuria, Tibet, and the Pacific coast. With a near-monopoly on world production, the Chinese silk industry generated large profits during the Tang era. Under Tang rule, the Tang-Abbasid interchange began in the mid-700s CE. After the Abbasid caliphate halted China's expansion into Central Asia, the two states quickly normalized relations. During this interchange, trade flourished between the two along the Silk Road and the Indian Ocean Trade Network. Muslim diaspora communities grew in China due to this. After the fall of the Tang, China fragmented into separate states. The most advanced of these was the Song Empire (960-1279 CE), which ruled east-central China. Song China enjoyed steady population growth, increased urbanization, thriving trade, and extensive cultural and technological advancement. Song rulers, like their Tang and Han predecessors, subscribed to the mandate of heaven concept and selected government officials according to the civil service examination. They relied heavily on Neo-Confucianism to legitimate their rule. The Song dynasty fell in the 1270s to Kublai Khan, one of Genghis Khan's grandsons. Kublai Khan created the Yuan Empire (1271-1368) and was the first ruler in centuries to reunite China as a single state. The Yuan Empire embraced Buddhism and resurrected the somewhat-declining Silk Road. The Ming dynasty (1368-1644) came next, and created an effective army, using it to expand China's borders and reestablish China's tributary system. The Japanese borrowed and adapted four important elements of Chinese civilization at this time: Buddhism, a centralized, imperial state, Confucian ethical and political thought, and the Chinese writing system. What the Japanese borrowed, they also adapted and made Japanese.
The Indus River civilization arose around 2600 BCE in what is today Pakistan and northwestern India. Not much is known about this civilization, apart from its heavy urbanization and the Mesopotamian-Indus trade, in which the Indus River people traded cotton and precious stones with their neighbors. In 1500 BCE, Aryans invaded northern India and conquered the Dravidians. These two cultures combined, producing what is now India. The first state to unify most of it was the Mauryan Empire (324-184 BCE). The Mauryans' trade network was extensive, and they traded with other parts of Asia, the Middle East,a and even the Roman Empire. Key exports included salt, iron, and cloth. The Mauryan emperor Ashoka united much of India through creating harmony between India's Buddhists, Hindus, and other believers. The next large empire to rise after the Mauryans' collapse was the Gupta. The Gupta Empire (320 BCE-500s CE) continued trade with other Asian civilizations like the Mauryans', but introduced a highly patriarchal social system unlike their predecessors.
One of the world's oldest civilizations was the Sumerian-Babylonian culture that arose as early as 8000 BCE in the region of Mesopotamia. The Mesopotamians traded widely throughout the Middle East and North Africa, and their economic network extended as far as the Indus River valley. Mesopotamian-Indus trade consisted of Mesopotamians trading wool, barley, and copper for gems and cotton. The other of the Middle East's earliest civilizations appeared in Egypt, on the banks of the Nile. Egypt's history as a civilization is considered to have begun in 3100 BCE. The Egyptians built many cities and a sizable economic network. Egypt traded extensively with their southern neighbors in Nubia, even going as far as to raid Nubia for slaves. Later, the Persians came to dominate the Middle East. Their first dynasty, the Achaemenid (550-331 BCE). quickly conquered neighbors like the Lydians, the Neo-Babylonians, and the Egyptians. Persia's great empire stretched from North Africa to India and measured more than 2 million square miles, making it the biggest state seen in the world to that date. Persian society was patriarchal and rigidly stratified, with population divided into several castes. Perisa embraced Zoroastrianism, but Achaemenid rulers remained relatively tolerant of other faiths.
A great variety of advanced civilizations appeared in the Americas during and after the 2000s BCE. Among the oldest and most significant were the Olmecs, who arose between 1400 and 1200 BCE and lasted until 400 BCE. The chief Olmec cities were located in south-central Mexico and lacked the benefit of a nearby river system. It is suggested that the Olmecs had a large trading network, because of the presence of jade and obsidian. In northwestern South America, several civilizations rose up in the Andes Mountains. The most noteworthy of these civilizations was the Chavín, who emerged around 1000 BCE and settled in what is today Peru. Later in Mesoamerica, many societies emerged from the religious and cultural foundations left by the Olmecs. One of these societies arose near present-day Mexico City, centered on the city of Teotihuacan (100 BCE-750 CE). In these Mesoamerican societies, women were subject to rigidly defined gender roles, although upper-class women gained status as priestesses. Mesoamericans produced pottery and obsidian carvings and traded widely, including with the Maya. The Mayan culture (250-900 CE) emerged in present-day Guatemala and spread as far north as southern Mexico. The Mayans were superb astronomers and mathematicians, exemplified by their invention of the calender. Farther to the south, in the Andes Mountains, many advanced cultures arose during this era. The most powerful were the Moche (200-700 CE), who lived in present-day Peru. The Moche civilization was highly stratified, built around a labor system known as mit'a, which combined elements of serfdom and statute labor.
Early Mediterranean civilizations worth mentioning include the bull-worshiping Minoans, the Greek ancestors the Mycenaeans, and the civilization responsible for inventing the alphabet, the Phoenicians. Between 1150 and 800 BCE, the ancient Greeks formed a distinct culture untied by a common language and the worship of the Olympian gods. Greece built a society of Greek city-states and colonies not just in Greece itself, but throughout the eastern Mediterranean, from Italy to the Turkish coast. The Greeks traded widely in the Mediterranean, exporting olives and wine. The Peloponnesian War (431-404 BCE) between Greek city-states Sparta and Athens, left Greece open to invasion by Macedonia. From this Greek-Macedonian kingdom came Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE), who expanded Greece's cultural influence across tens of thousands of miles, to create Hellenistic culture. Another force emerged in Italy around 800 BCE, known as Rome. Rome was one of the largest and longest-lasting empires in history. During the 300s CE, Eastern Rome split from the west, leaving both empires vulnerable to attacks by Germanic and Asiatic nomads.
World History Thematic Timeline
Due: May 5, 2015
In 1206, Muslim invaders captured Delhi in northern India and established the Delhi Sultanate (1206-1526). This victory introduced Islam to India, where it remained even after the sultanate faded. Tensions and divisions developed between Muslims and Hindus in India. Despite political disunity, India still managed to maintain the middle zone of the Indian Ocean Trade Network, in which they exported cotton, gems, and spices in exchange for goods from the Chinese and Arab zones. India also participated in the Silk Roads.
Major states in southeast Asia, such as Khmer Empire (500s-1400s) in Cambodia and the Srivijayan Empire (500s-1100s) in Indonesia and the Malay Peninsula, were strongly influenced by Indian culture. Both empires bore the imprint of Hinduism and Buddhism. Indonesia contributed exotic woods and spices to the Indian Ocean Trade Network and the Silk Roads.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, the states of Ghana and Mali became Islamic, but in different ways. Ghana was invaded by nomadic camel herders, known as Berbers, in the late 1000s and forcefully converted to Islam. Islam came to Mali with much less violence. Both Ghana and Mali were involved in the trans-Saharan trade network, in which they contributed gold and other metals from their naturally occurring deposits. Mali also traded salt, ivory, and slaves, making it a key point in the trans-Saharan network. Mali became a renowned center for Islamic scholarship and home to key mosques. Mansa Musa (1312-1337) was Mali's most powerful ruler and a devout Muslim. During his pilgrimage to Mecca, Mansa Musa single-handedly caused a major devaluation of gold in the region because of all the gold he brought with him. During this time, Swahili city-states flourished. All were involved in the Indian Ocean Trade Network and all were multiethnic. In the non-Islamic parts of sub-Saharan Africa, a handful of sizable states arose, including Kongo, Benin, and Great Zimbabwe.
The political and religious landscape of the Middle East was transformed by the emergence of Islam. Mohammed's new religion spread through Arabia and beyond during the 600s and 700s, destroying Persia and threatening Byzantium. A vast territory including Spain, most of North Africa, virtually all of the Middle East, and parts of Central Asia came under Islamic control. Islamic theology divided the world into two spheres, Dar al-Islam, where Islamic law was dominant and Muslims were therefore guaranteed the ability to worship freely, and Dar al-Harb, where Islam was not established. The Abbasid caliphate (750-1258) established a great capital at Baghdad and also established trade networks that linked the Middle East with Europe, Africa, the Indian Ocean, and Asia. The Middle East controlled the Arab zone in the Indian Ocean Trade Network and also contributed slaves, glassware, and textiles to the Silk Road. In 1055, Baghdad fell to the Seljuk Turks, which made it easier for the European Crusades to wreak havoc on the Middle East. The final blow came from the Mongols, who captured Baghdad in 1258 and killed the last Abbasid caliph.
In North America, most Native Americans were nomadic hunter-foragers divided into tribes. In Mexico and Mesoamerica, an aggressive warrior society known as the Toltecs emerged and ruled much of the region between the 800s and 1100s. The next major group in Mesoamerica were the Aztecs (1200s-1500s). Their chief city was Tenochtitlàn, and they built an extensive network of roads for political and economic purposes. In South America's Andes Mountains, the Inca Empire (1300s-1500s) emerged. Like the Aztecs, the Incas developed a road network, but also had an elaborate bureaucracy, and extreme social stratification.
In the aftermath of Rome's collapse, no single authority emerged in western Europe. Instead, small and short-lived kingdoms rose and fell. A solution to this came in the form of feudalism. King Charlemagne (768-814) created the Holy Roman Empire, using the previous Roman Empire as influence and legitamizing his rule by association with the Catholic church. England and France spent many years fighting over French territory, which eventually ended with the Hundred Years' War (1337-1453) that the French won. Italy was one of the most urbanized regions of Europe and major player in the Mediterranean trade network.
By far the strongest and most advanced state in medieval Europe was Byzantium, or the Eastern Roman Empire, whose capital was Constantinople. Economically, Byzantium played a role in Mediterranean trade, Silk Road commerce, and, indirectly, the Indian Ocean Trade Network. Politically, its emperor used Eastern Orthodoxy to legitimize his rulership and took advantage of a large and elaborate bureaucracy to administer and supervise his territory.
Although the Ming kept up their tradition of cultural brilliance, and although economic prosperity continued for a long time, China grew militarily softer and politically stagnant in the late 1500s and early 1600s. The Ming also opened up China to European traders and Christian missionaries who began arriving in the 1500s. For the Ming, the 1600s were a time of rapid decline and Li Zicheng's peasant revolt in the 1630s and 40s toppled the Ming dynasty. This allowed China to be conquered by the Manchus, who created a new dynasty called the Qing (1644-1912). Starting in the 1690s, the Qing traded with European nations, but regulated commerce tightly and limited foreign contact as much as possible. While Qing China sold a high volume of tea, silk, and porcelain, it allowed few imports. In Japan, civil war, banditry, and economic breakdown became the norm during the late 1400s and 1500s. This allowed European commercial and religious influence when the Portuguese arrived in the 1540s. The reunification of Japan, which lasted from 1560 to 1615, involved the military and diplomatic efforts of three warlords. The general who completed the process was Tokugawa Ieyasu, a brilliant, ruthless commander. Tokugawa policy included a more rigid caste system and isolationism.
In the late 1400s, India was still ruled by the Delhi Sultanate, although it had been weakening for decades. In 1520, Babur the Tiger invaded and shattered the sultanate. This led to the establishment of the Mughal Empire, which conquered the rest of India and ruled there for the next several centuries. The economy thrived, thanks to a boom in India's cotton trade due to intensified peasant labor. The Mughal Empire reached its peak under Akbar the Great (1556-1605), who gained fame for his religious tolerance and abolishing jizya tax. Under Akbar's great-grandson, the empire took a turn for the worst. Aurangzeb abandoned religious flexibility, which caused the Mughal state to decline, allowing Europeans access to India. In a short time, one of the world's most powerful empires wa transformed into a weak colonial possession.
From the 1400s onward, the arrival of the Portuguese and other Europeans profoundly shaped the development of West African states. The Bantu state of Kongo entered into a partnership with the Portuguese, and began capturing fellow Africans and selling them to the Portuguese as slaves. In South and East Africa, just as in the west, it was Portugal that had established itself as a colonial and trading-post power. In the mid-1600s control of South Africa passed to the Dutch, who began to settle the region with colonists known as Boers. Boers enslaved African herding tribes nearest to them. Omani Arabs rose up against Portuguese rule in the 1650s, and expelled many Portuguese from East Africa. During the 1600s and 1700s, European manufactured goods would be brought to Africa's west coast and exchanged for gold, ivory, and slaves. The voyage would continue to the Americas, where slaves were sold in exchange for raw materials. This was known as the triangular trade system.
In the late 1300s and 1400s, the Ottoman Turks gained hegemony over the Middle East, restoring central authority to the region. Making effective use of gunpowder artillery, the Ottomans expanded into southeastern Europe and across North Africa. After their victory at the 1683 seige of Vienna, the Austrians drove the Ottomans back to the east, and they lost much of their territory. The Ottomans' neighbors in Persia regained their independence during this era. In 1501, Ismail I rose to power and proclaimed the Safavid Empire. Safavid Persia was devoted to the form of Shitte Islam, and most Persians converted to this denomination. Safavid Persia competed bitterly with the Ottomans for influence over the Silk Road and Indian Ocean Trade Network.
The first European nations to systematically explore the wider Atlantic world were Spain and Portugal. Having reached Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Far East on one hand and the New World on the other, the Portuguese and Spanish established a commercial or colonial presence wherever they could. The most important reason for Spain's and Portugal's success in conquering the New World involved disease, the grimmest aspect of the Columbian Exchange. A direct economic consequence of Spanish and Portuguese colonization in the New World was coerced labor, known as the mit'a system. They also opted to rely increasingly on the importation of slaves from Africa. During the 1500s, other European nations began to explore and colonize, the most important being France, the Dutch Republic, and England. The Dutch colonized much of West Africa and a number of Caribbean islands. In the 1600s, the English established colonies on the North American mainland. As in other parts of the New World, coerced labor was part of life in English settlements: many colonists paid for their passage by means of indentured servitude, and the English gradually came to rely more and more on Africans brought over by the Atlantic slave trade.
Russia, which established a land empire in Siberia during the 1500s and 1600s, also extended its reach to North America. The fur trade stimulated Russian settlement of Siberia and North America alike. The Russians established a colony in Alaska in the late 1700s, administered by the Russian-American Company.
Most of Mesoamerica and South America, and a vast portion of North America, fell under European control in the 1500s. Once mighty states like the Aztec and Inca empires quickly collapsed due to a combination of European-borne diseases and European military and technological advantages. Various colonial regimes and joint-stock companies came to exert power over both colonies.
Largely isolated from the wider world during the late 1700s and early 1800s, both China and Japan were confronted by Western imperial pressures in the mid-1800s. To China's loss and Japan's gain, they reacted in opposite ways. The Qing dynasty in China badly mishandled relations with the West. Europeans and Americans were allowed to trade with China only in a handful of designated cities. Also, while the Chinese exported many items like silk, porcelain, and tea to Western nations, they only accepted silver bullion in exchange. The Qing continued to believe that China was the "Middle Kingdom", failing to realize that they had fallen far behind the West when it came to science and technology. In the meantime, the British, followed by other Westerners, embarked on a campaign of economic imperialism by flooding China with opium from India. The opium trade overwhelmingly reversed the economic balance of power, with silver bullion flowing out of China at an alarming rate. This lead to the Opium Wars between China and England, resulting in China being forced to open more trade ports, lower tariffs on British goods, and surrender Hong Kong to Britain. Japan emerged as an imperial power in its own right, making this the non-Western world's most successful adaptation to the industrial era. The Meiji Restoration of 1868 began Japan's modern age by sweeping the Tokugawa shogunate away and rapidly industrializing Japan's economy. Japan began to expand in the 1870's, and took the Ryukyu Islands, Taiwan, and Korea from China and the Kurile Islands and southern Sakhalin from Russia.
During the first half of the 1800s, the British East India Company expanded its colonization of India through diplomacy, warfare, and the training of native elites. The company relied as much as possible on native personnel for administration and tax-gathering. After the Indian Revolt (1857-1858), the British crown took over from the British East India Company as India's colonizing authority. By the late 1800s, one quarter of the wealth generated by the British empire came from India, making it an indispensable strategic and economic asset.
Southeast Asia came under Western dominance during these years. Indonesia was still controlled by the Dutch, and the British gained their permission to make advances towards the Malayan Peninsula. In 1819, Singapore quickly became a key British naval base and Burma was also colonized by the Brits. The French also became interested in Southeast Asia, and by the 1880s and 1890s Indochina was fully colonized by them. Siam, now known as Thailand, successfully avoided European colonization due to lucky location and good leadership. The last major acquisition in Southeast Asia was the U.S. annexation of the Philippines, which resulted in the deaths of over 200,000 Filipinos.
In 1880, the "Scramble for Africa" began and lasted until the eve of World War I. The Europeans want of colonization was motivated by greed, belief in their own racial superiority, and their condescending conviction that they had the duty to "civilize" Africa. A pivitol movement in the Scramble was the Berlin Conference (1884-1885), in which boundaries were agreed upon and guidelines for further expansion, all to the benefit of the Europeans. Within three decades, all of Africa had been brought under Europe's imperial sway. However, the Scramble backfired on the Europeans by rousing their combative passions and contributing to tensions that helped cause World War I.
In the Ottoman Empire from 1839 to 1876, in a series of changes known as the Tanzimat Reforms, the government promoted greater religious tolerance for non-Muslims; introduced Western science and technology into the educational system; boosted industrialization and built railroads and telegraphs; and liberalized and secularized the legal system. Unfortunatley, these efforts were put to an end in 1878 by Sultan Abdul Hamid II. In Egypt, Muhammad Ali created a Western-style military, recruited European professionals, and industialized the production of Egyptian cotton. During the mid-century, Ottoman control over the Balkans and North Africa weakened, and as the new century began, the visionary Young Turks disposed of the sultan.
In the years following the French Revolution, and as the Industrial Revolution progressed, European governments had to decide how to respond to the shock waves caused by both events. A key turning point came with the revolution of 1848, which caused most European governments to expand political representation and legislate the improvement of working conditions. Nationalism profoundly affected politics in Germany, Italy, and Austria.
Shaken by his country's loss in the Crimean War (1853-1856), the moderately liberal Alexander II modernized Russia with a series of "great reforms", the most important of which was his 1861 emancipation of the serfs. However, Alexander was assassinated by radicals who believed he had not gone far enough, and conservative tsars who succeeded him undid many of his changes.
During the last two-thirds of the 1800s, the United States equaled, and then surpassed, Europe as an industrial power. Many of the era's key innovations came from here. As for Latin America, the pace of industrialization was slow because of their economic backwardness due to centuries of economic rule. A certain measure of industrialization and modernization occurred in some parts of the region by the late 1800s, with countries like Mexico and Argentina leading the way.
Huge upheavals came to interwar Asia, beginning in China, where the Chinese Revolution of 1911-1912 had swept away the Qing Empire. Immediately afterward, civil war and anarchy broke out. A militaristic regime took control in 1912, gaining opponents quickly. The Chinese Communist Party and the Nationalistic Party joined forces and gained control of all of China under the Yangtze River. Suddenly, the leader of the Nationalistic Party killed and drove off the Communists and seized control of Beijing then all of China. The People's Republic of China, established in 1949 by Mao Tse-tung, has been the most populous communist nation on earth for more than half a century. To this day, China's communist authorities have pursued the same combination of political strictness and economic liberalization. Japan began the interwar period with democratizing potential but veered in the end toward authoritarian militarism. After its defeat in World War II, Japan was forced to rebuild completely, and therefore emerged as a surprise economic powerhouse.
In South Asia, national liberation movements became increasingly influential. The most successful of these movements appeared in India, guided by Gandhi. Britain granted India its independence in August 1947. India transformed itself into the world's largest democracy, but also suffered great difficulty in balancing economic growth with population growth.
In the Dutch East Indies, the leader of the Indonesian Nationalist Party began a war of nationalist liberation in 1945 and, with the Dutch gone, founded the new nation of Indonesia. This leader grew authoritarian over time, and in 1965 a coup was staged against him and from then until 1998, Indonesia was governed by the military strongman, Suharto. Violence proved even more devastating in Indochina. Vietnam split into two halves after France lost control, and ultimately caused the Vietnam War.
Decolonization began in Africa during the 1950s and 1960s. In Sub-Saharan Africa, Britain and France presided over relatively smooth transitions to freedom. South Africa adopted its notorious apartheid policy in 1948, segregating blacks and "coloureds" and depriving them of voting rights. A broad anti-apartheid movement arose in the 1950s and called for an end to discrimination. Finally, during the 1980s, internal unrest, combined with worldwide revulsion and the threat of economic sanctions and divestment, convinced the white government that apartheid could not be maintained. Leader Nelson Mandela was released in 1990, and the government prepared for free elections.
Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) proclaimed himself president of the new Turkish Republic in 1923. Ataturk governed as a secularizing modernizer, promoting industrialization, Western dress, Western education, and the use of the Roman alphabet. A similar change took place in Persia, which became the modern state of Iran in the 1920s. During the 1950s, Middle Eastern states that were not already free threw off the mandates and protectorates that Europe had established after World War I. Independence and oil-based wealth made the states of the Middle East more assertive in the 50s and 60s. Among the most dramatic developments in postwar Middle East was the establishment of the state of Israel (1948). The most powerful dictatorships in the Cold War Middle East were those of Iran and Iraq. The Iranian Revolution transformed the country into an anti-Western theocracy, leading to the Iran hostage crisis (1979-1981), which damaged US-Iranian relations. It also became enmeshed in the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988). Iraq's ruler at this time was Saddam Hussein, who was originally sponsored by the US, until he began using brutality on his own people during the war. Between 1991 and Hussein's overthrow in 2003, the international community strove to contain Iraq and prevent its development of weapons of mass destruction.
Well-established democracies like Britain and France experience political weakness and economic sluggishness during the 1920s. In Italy, the king turned to the leader of the Fascist Party, Benito Mussolini, to govern Italy for the next 21 years. Germany's road to dictatorship was longer than Italy's, and the results were infinitely worse. The Great Depression boosted popularity of Hitler's Nazi Party and Hitler was appointed chancellor in 1933. The Nazis targeted several races as being "undesirable" and eventually resorted to genocide. After World War II, the Marshall Plan (1948) helped Western Europe recover. Generational change, combined with discontent over the Cold War and wars of decolonization, led to the 1968 protests. To escape the malaise of the 1970s, many West European nations moved politically to the right, which led to recovery in terms of overall wealth, but also caused social stress in the form of strikes and layoffs.
The Soviet Union was a communist regime that took power in Russia in the fall of 1917. The Bolsheviks (lead by Vladimir Lenin), the most radical of Russia's communists, were brought to power in 1917, but struggled to maintain it and eventually Joseph Stalin gained control. Stalin was one of the most oppressive dictators in history, and although the USSR modernized under him, the price was steep. Both Eastern Europe and the USSR recovered from the war surprisingly quickly, and the region enjoyed substantial economic growth between the early 50s and 70s. Environmental damage caused to East European ecosystems by half a century of unregulated industrialization proved catastrophic. In 1985, Gorbachev rose to power as a Soviet leader. He launched a reform effort that ultimately failed, and in 1991 agreed to the disbandment of the USSR.
Latin American economies modernized unevenly during these years, largely because it remained advantageous for economic elites and foreign investors to continue plantation monoculture and the extraction of raw materials. Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina all suffered a long tradition of authoritarian rule, worsened by the Great Depression. Mexico was the mildest, after the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920). More so than Mexico, Brazil descended deep into dictatorship in 1930. Despite some temporary progress towards economic modernization and democratization in the late 40s and early 50s, many Latin American nations reverted to exploitative economies and dictatorial government from the late 50s through the early 80s.