The various countries of the world are interconnected through trade and through exchange of thoughts and cultures. The interconnectedness has increased dramatically in recent times but the world was also interconnected even during the days of Indus Valley Civilisation.
The trade route which linked China to the western world and to other countries is called Silk Route. There were many Silk Routes. The Silk Routes existed before the Christian Era, and persisted till the fifteenth century.
Chinese potteries travelled from China to other countries through the Silk Route. Similarly, gold and silver travelled from Europe to Asia through this route.
Religions; like Christianity, Islam and Buddhism travelled to different parts of the world through the Silk Route.
Noodles travelled from China to different parts of the world. The sevian; which are used in India are localized form of noodle. Similarly, spaghetti of Italy is the European version of noodles.
Many common food of today; like potato, chillies, tomato, maize, soya, groundnut and sweet potatoes were introduced in Europe after Christopher Columbus accidentally discovered the American continents.
Potato brought dramatic changes for the life of people of Europe. Because of introduction of potato, the people in Europe could eat better and could live longer. The peasants of Ireland became so dependent on potato that when disease destroyed the potato crop in the mid-1840s, hundreds of thousands died due to starvation. This famine is known as Irish Famine.
The European sailors discovered the sea route to Asia and Americas in the sixteenth century. The discovery of new sea route not only helped in expanding the trade but also in European conquest over other parts of the world.
America had vast reserves of minerals and there was abundant crop in this continent. The food and minerals from America transformed the lives of people in other parts of the world.
By the mid-sixteenth century, the Portuguese and Spanish colonization of America began in a decisive way. But the conquest could not be facilitated because of arms and ammunition but because of a disease. Europeans had been exposed to small pox and hence they had developed immunity against this disease. But the Americans had been isolated from the world and they had no immunity against small pox. When the Europeans reached there, they carried the germs of small pox alongwith them. The disease wiped off the whole communities in certain parts of America. And thus, the Europeans could easily get control of the Americas.
Till the nineteenth century, Europe was suffering from many problems; like poverty, diseases and religious conflicts. Many religious dissenters fled to America for the fear of prosecution. Those people utilised the opportunities in America and could dramatTill the eighteenth century, India and China were the richest countries of the world. But from the fifteenth century onwards, China began to restrict overseas contacts and went into isolation. Because of China’s reduced role and America’s rising importance; the centre of the world trade shifted to Europe.
The world had changed dramatically during the nineteenth century. There were changes in social, political, economic and technological factors in much complex way during this period. The changes altered the external relations beyond recognition.
Economists identify three types of flows within international economic exchanges. These are as follows:
Changing pattern of food production and consumption in Europe: Traditionally, countries liked to be self sufficient in food. But self sufficiency in food meant a low quality of life for the people of Britain.
There was immense growth of population of Britain during eighteenth century. Due to this, the demand for food had increased exponentially. Under pressure from the landed groups, the government restricted the imports of corn. This further aggravated the food prices in Britain. The industrialists and urban dwellers forced the government to abolish the Corn Laws.
Abolition of Corn Laws meant that food could be imported at much cheaper rate than at what it could be produced in Britain. British farm produce was unable to compete with cheaper imports.
Vast areas of land were left uncultivated and a large number of people became unemployed. People migrated to cities; in large numbers; in search of work. Many people also migrated overseas. Many people also migrated overseas.
Falling food prices resulted in increased demand for food in Britain. Moreover, industrialization also helped in increasing the income of the people. This necessitated more import of food items into Britain. To fulfill the demand, large tracts of land were cleared in Eastern Europe, America, Russia and Australia.
The foodgrains also needed to be supplied to the ports. For this, railway lines were to be laid so that the agricultural hubs could be connected to the ports. Moreover, new habitations also had to come up in agricultural hubs. For all these activities, capital flowed from financial centres; such as London; to these places.
There was shortage of labour in Americas and Australia. The demand for workforce resulted in large scale migration of people to these places. Nearly 50 million people migrated from Europe to America and Australia during the nineteenth century. All over the world, about 150 million people migrated to different placeBy 1890s, a global agricultural economy had taken shape. This was accompanied by complex changes in labour movement, capital flow and technological changes.
Technology definitely played an important role in globalizing the world economy during this period. Some of the major technological innovations were the railways, steamship and telegraph. Railways helped in connecting the hinterland to the ports. Steamships helped in transporting goods in bulk across the Atlantic. Telegraph helped in speeding up the communication and thus facilitated better economic transaction.
Trade in Meat: Trade in meat shows a very good example of benefit of technology on the life of common people. Till 1870s, live animals were shipped from America to Europe. Shipping live animals had its own problems. They took more space and many animals either died or became sick during the transit. Due to this, meat remained a luxury item for most of the Europeans. ury item for most of the Europeans.
Arrival of refrigeration technology changed the picture. Now, animals could be slaughtered in America and processed meat could be shipped to Europe. This helped in better utilization of space in the ships. This also helped in better availability of meat for the Europeans and thus prices fell. Now, even the common people could afford to eat meat on a regular basis.
Better availability of food promoted social peace within the countries. People of Britain were now more receptive to imperial ambitions of the country.
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