Why did the Europeans colonize the world and Asians didn’t?

Sailing across the world

In the early 1700s, nearly half of the ship crew died in every expenditure due to a mysterious disease called scurvy. Between the 17th and 18th-century scurvy has taken more than 2 million lives. No one knew what caused it, but that changed in 1747 when a British physician James Lind concluded that the lack of essential nutrients causes the disease. Captain Cook believed in Lind’s conclusion and experimented with it and was successful, this marked the beginning of expenditure of the British Empire and European colonization.


James Cook

Captain Cook has discovered many lands, Australia to be the most notable discovery of his. Within a short span of Captian Cook’s arrival, the native population of New Zealand and Australia dropped by 90%. This is true for islands and countries that were invaded by European countries. They landed their foot on new land and instantly declare that it is theirs.

How did they manage to do it?

In 1775, Asia accounted for 80% of the global economy.
India and China accounted for 2/3rd of the world economy.
The European economy was dwarf compared to Asain.
In the 1770s, Europeans had no greater technology compared to Indians and Chinese.
So why didn’t Chinese or Indian rulers conquered Australia?
Why did the British leap forward and Germany, America didn’t?

So how did this happen?
Asian countries could have conquered the world in the 17000s but they lacked the values, the myths, judicial apparatus, and sociopolitical structure the Europeans had woven for centuries.
Europeans were thinking in a scientific and capitalistic way.
They were successful because they admitted their ignorance – “We don’t know what’s out there”, So to answer the question that had been emerged from admitting ignorance, they went on an adventure to explore the world and find the answers. Other rulers didn’t expect that they might not know everything there is to know. Hence, there would be no point in exploring the world.

“War is peace.

Freedom is slavery.

Ignorance is strength.”

George Orwell, 1984

European imperialism was different because they sent people to different parts of the world to obtain new knowledge and territories.
They knew that more knowledge will give them an edge in obtaining new territories.
From the 18th-19th century, almost every military expedition that had left Europe had onboard scientists.
Explore and conquer mentality also lead people to make better world maps, thanks to European expeditions we were able to develop better world maps.

Conquering, Discovering and Destroying

The British Raj started in India. On 10 April 1802, the Great Indian survey was launched. It lasted 60 years, with the help of locals and scholars British mapped the whole of India, they also calculated the height of Mount Everest and other Himalayan peaks. They also robbed tons of gold, spices, and information that was available. They also discovered Mohenjo-Daro in 1922 with the British archeological survey.

Previous Indian rulers didn’t focus on obtaining new information and exploring India. If they had British east India company would have been just a company.

The European conquerors knew their empires very well. Far better than Mughals did. Their superior knowledge helped them to rule India for 2 centuries. Fewer than 5,000 British officers, 40,000-70,000 British soldiers, and another 100,000 Britishers were enough to rule over 300 million Indians.

The Great Bengal Famine

They conquered Bengal in 1764 which was at that time the richest state in India, they were just interested in filling up their pockets so they applied a disastrous economic policy that within five years, 10 million Bengalis died, 1/3rd of its population, Today we call it the Great Bengal Famine.

“The empire on which the sun never set was also the empire on which the gore never dried.”

Christopher Hitchens

We all are Europeans

Our language, clothing, thoughts, political systems, economic system, all are inspired by Europeans. They did colonize the world and in every sense. America and other parts of the world are following the same system the Europeans had established between 18-19th centuries.

Research Material:

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

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