Modern World History
From the Age of Discovery to the Present

Age of Discovery: 15th-16th century

Early World Powers: Portugal and Spain
    Discovers Brazil sailing south around tip of Africa to find India
    Dominant force in Indian Ocean
    Early Monopoly on Spice Trade
    New World Colonies extracted for wealth: gold
    Plantation system

Colonies: 1700s

Colonial Trade Routes

Colony Trade Routes

Map source:

Slave Trade

Slave Trade

Slave Trade

Map source:

Protestant Reformation: 16th century

Martin Luther

Counter Reformation

Spanish Inquisition

Long term effects: Literacy in 1900

Isaac Newton
Why Early Leaders Declined
Spain and Portugal very wealthy in 16th century from New World gold
    Spent money on wars and luxuries
    Did not have to make things: could buy them
    Did not have to improve agriculture: could buy food
    Eventually money ran out
Italy was a renaissance center of trade and manufacture
    But no colonies in New World
    Old power structures prevented change

Dutch East Indies Company
    Half the population lived in cities: industrial
    Prosperous shipping, trading: Middlemen
    Money lending allowed
Spain wages war on Protestantism in Netherlands
Dutch send own ships to Indian Ocean: Dutch East Indies Company
Soon dominant in Spice Trade
Dutch East Indies Company had virtual Monopoly on  spice Islands of Indonesia

British Rise
British pirates: better ships, guns
American Colonies: settled by dissidents to start a new life
Britain ahead of Europe in

Queen Elizabeth

British in India

British Empire


Imperialism 1700s
Other European countries scramble to set up colonies all over world
Colonial Africa

Industrial Revolution

Spanish Colonies: South and Central America

“Spain transmitted to us everything it had: its language, its architecture, its religion, its dress and its food, its military tradition and its judicial and civil institutions; wheat, livestock, sugar cane, even our dogs and chickens.
But we couldn’t receive from Spain Western methods of production and distribution, technique, capital, and the ideas of European society, because Spain didn’t have them.”

Age of Imperialism

Imperialism in 1900

Map source:

WWI: clash of imperialist powers

WWII: Reaction to WWI

Axis Powers 1942
Map source: gga/gga_cart/gecar127.htm

Independence after WWII

Independence after WWII

Map source:

Cold War: Reaction to WWII

Hunger Today

Colonialism and Repressive governments have had a huge impact on World Hunger.

Return to World Food Issues webpage