I watched tonight a National Geographic documentary about European colonization. The documentary is well done, as are most National Geographic documentaries. The author tries to determine reasons why where the European nations able to conquer and colonize 2/3 of the world or 4,5 (North and South America, Africa, Australia and half of Asia) while having a complete of Europe, out of a total 6 continents.
The conclusion of the documentary is that advantage the Europeans had over nations of other continents is purely geographical. The European nations had a distinct advantage to have access to the most variety of crops and livestock. In the history off the human race, we were able to domesticate only 14 types of livestock animals. Out of those 14 types the North Americas had 0, the South Americas has one (Lamas), Africa had 0 (try to tame Elephants why don’t you), Australia had 0, Euro-Asia had the rest of 13, while Europe had at the earliest at least 8 types (cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, horses, ox, donkey). Now these animals had a distinct effect on the development of the European nations. The animals provided a stable output of food, skins, cloth, wool, working animals(ox), war animals(horse) and important fertilizer for the fields. This enabled the Europeans to build a civilization that could support large armies, scientist, governments and so on. On other continents there were large civilizations that developed significant population numbers, but could not support the larger numbers of non food producing population.
The animals provided the Europeans with an another thing. Bacteria and viruses. Those same bacteria and viruses the were terrorizing Europe in the middle ages, that evolved from animal bacteria, were unknown to the Europeans of that time help them in colonization of the world. While the Europeans developed some natural resistance to the bacteria like the small pox, people on other continents did not develop a resistance to the bacteria. The small pox played an important role in the colonization of the Americas, they decimated the Indian population on the continents, kill from 85% to 95% of the population. The same thing happened in North and South Africa, but then came the European colonization of Central Africa where the same thing that helped the Europeans in their previous colonizations now turned against them.
Central Africa is in the tropics, where there is are large amounts of highly contagious and deadly diseases. The people that inhabits Central Africa developed some natural resistance to those diseases, and therefore where not so affected by the European diseases, but the Europeans came for the first time in contact with the most contagious of all diseases Malaria. Malaria now decimated the population of European settlers, while the Africans lived by them not affected by the disease. Europeans here made a tactical error, they used the same principles of settling as in the rest of the world. Settling near the rivers and lakes, forming larger communities. This is ideal for outbreaks of malaria epidemic. The Africans lived in higher and dryer areas in smaller communities.
If you look at the shape of the world today and the population origins, you will notice that only in the areas of the world where there were not the European like conditions you have indigenous population in the majority. If you look at the Americas, most of the population roots are Europeans, the indigenous Indians in the North are suppressed in reservations, and in the South are in non European like environments like the Amazon. In Asia there is no European ancestor majority nation, since the South Asia which was colonized is in the tropics, as is the Central Africa where the majority of the population is native African, unlike the North and the South where the majority is of European descent.
So the Europeans are not a superior race, nor are smarter, more cunning or something else, they just had a geographical advantage that allowed them access to ampful amount of food, and basic resource for the development of an early civilization that could support a large number of non food producing people. This as a result had the development of arms, and in general warfare, and of course the two way blade the bacteria which caused problems for the Europeans but where a disaster for the indigenous population of other continents.