European Influence on World Economy from 1850 - 1920

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European Influence on World Economy From 1850 - 1920

In the 19th and 20th centuries, Europe continued to shape and influence the world through strong-arming global trade, modernization, and colonization. European countries physically and/or economically controlled lands in Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East to export cash crops, creating economic dependence; this, in turn, inhibited modernization. In the late 19th century, Africa was partitioned among the European powers strictly for profit. China was plagued with internal conflicts in the 19th century, as the government resisted Western philosophy. Japan came out of seclusion in 1865 and successfully combined old traditions with western philosophies. Egypt failed to industrialize after Muhammad Ali’s death, and fell to the exploitation of the British. Latin America achieved independence by 1820; but without social change, they remained economically dependent on Europe and the world market. The countries that were able to industrialized would continue to progress, while the others remained stagnate.

At the conclusion of the age of exploration and the depression of the 1870s, European firms received significantly less for African goods. To solve this problem, European firms established bases inside Africa to cut out the African middleman. In 1884, at the Berlin Conference, Africa was partitioned among the great European powers for development. Superior firepower, such as rapid-fire weapons and armed steamboats, along with organized dynamic strategies, were able to suppressed African resistance, even when seriously out numbered (Savrianos Africa). Europeans used local chiefs to gain the cooperation of the African people, and by 1914, Europe had colonized the majority of the continent of Africa (Savrianos Africa). Colonization was the first step toward bringing Africa into the global world market.

European firms focused on exploiting African cash crops. With Europeans controlling the economy through industrial and financial monopoly, well-connected firms managed the resources exported from Africa; the most profitable being mineral and agricultural. There were three regional patterns of African integration into the world economy: cash crops from African farmers, European concession owning companies, and European settlers and mining companies (Savrianos Africa). The building of railroads in Africa assisted in the expansion of cash crops into the European market (Savrianos Africa). Private European firms brought African resources into the world market at the expense of African farmers and peasants.

The European occupation of Africa from 1850 to 1914 had an enormous impact to both the African culture and economy. The missionaries had a great effect on African culture because they were the first Europeans who sought to change it; utilizing the principles of religion, medicine, and education. By 1900 most of the teaching was done by Africans (Savrianos Africa). The new educated/ thinking generation began to discount the old ways and questioned colonialism. This led to tribal resentment against the Europeans. The commodities leaving Africa flooded global markets, firms provided work to the peasant class, and the African economy was booming. However, Europeans dictated the African market, causing a damper to the newly educated and African industrialism.

After the conclusion of the first opium war in 1842, European powers continued to intertwine themselves with China. In 1856, after supposed diplomatic disrespect, the English, one again, declares war on China. Another imperial list of demands was gained by the English to include: deeper penetration into china with 11 new treaty ports, unlimited travel in the interior in China, more territory near Hong Kong, and the re-legalization of opium, further weakening an already unstable government (Mayer, “China”). In 1874, France established a protectorate over...
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