Myanmar?s Rohingya Could Be The World?s Next Major Refugee Crisis
This is Asia.
The vast majority of Asia is not like the big cities you know.
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Nations in northern climes, particularly in Europe, spent more time playing with fire, which accelerated the development of steam power, metallurgy and other prerequisites of the industrial age. Europe is also a bit unusual in that it is situated among a number of small seas, which encouraged naval transport and the technology required for naval warfare.
If North America had been undisturbed, I believe Native Americans would have developed some form of industrialization around the Great Lakes area.
#1. Location, location, location! Asian Nations, especially the ones that have flourished, are between China, and the West. This meant that trade and technology spread through these nations, back and forth. Sub Saharan Africa, did not have this luxury. While there may have been SOME trade and exchange of ideas, that was pretty much between Middle Eastern and North African Nations, trading with Sub Saharan Africa.
#2. Africa, is, quite simply....a VERY nice continent for early hunter-gatherer societies. Much like North America and much of Polynesia. Now, eventually people DID adopt agriculture, tools and the like, but....I believe, that without HARSHER environments pushing them, human societies are much slower to develop TECHNOLOGY. This does not make these peoples "dumb," it is simply that their technological development is slower.
#3. Lack of Big CITIES/Agricultural centers. This largely falls in with the points above. When people's can live off the land, in somewhat ease, then they are not as likely to develop large cities, which, in turn, start creating specialization of skills.
Let's place ourselves 1,000 years in the past (OR, in any time period, in which large swaths of land are unoccupied...) Africa, the America's and Polynesia, offer some VERY nice regions for simply living off the land, with all the resources needed.
I would point out, however, that societies from ALL THREE areas were actually pretty complex, when it comes to cultural traditions, knowledge OF their environments, social interactions, etc.
They only lacked the more advanced technologies, and Social traditions that are born from:
A. Large Cities.
B. Massive Agricultural Bases.
C. Trade Routes.
Well... In the crudest sense I'd have to go with the influx of shitloads of capital for a protracted period of time.
African countries were/are in rich in mineral resources, be it diamonds, oil or something else. The countries you speak of in Asia aren't. Their sole capital was their human potential and so they've worked on developing it. A good example that you've left out is Singapore. Absolutely nothing to offer but its people. They used to be paid like slaves doing accepting offshored jobs from Europe and America. Slowly and gradually they've built up their expertise and become what you see today. African countries, like Nigeria, are moving in that direction also, but are seriously hurting through regional conflicts that are still going on on much of the continent.
Something like that :-)
PS CHINA, and much of the Far East are the BIG questions to me.
I just find it amazing, that the Human Species "came out of Africa," then, somehow, spread ALL the way to China/East Asia, and BOOM! The first REAL Empires/Nations.
China was advanced when the peoples of the Middle East and Mediterranean were just starting to flourish.
While the lands of China are very nice for agriculture, and all the early required resources, I find the question of "how" and "why" to be very interesting.
Whatever the case, they, in many ways, are more the "center" of the world, than the Mediterranean/European West.
Trade back and forth with China, and East Asia, over the centuries has been one of the driving forces for Technological innovation for everyone in the EurAsia.
(And HOW did the freaking Polynesians explore and colonize the Pacific...in CANOES and Katamarans?????)
Jews.. however had gone for education and so did asians. When we got a wave of immigrants from Viet Nam, Cambodia, they really focused big on their kids getting educated. Families who arrived with minimal skills, not much English,no money.... have kids going to Stanford,Cal,Cal Tech, etc.