The impact of colonialism on what is now considered third world countries is doubtless, immense, and is bound to have consequences for centuries to come. The effects are of different nature, among them being exploitation, unequal social relations, enslavement, spread of virulent diseases, but at the same time – medical and technological advances as well as improved infrastructure (Thong 375). Colonialism also influenced the culture and languages of those countries, who were subject to it. However, the process here went both ways, as the native cultures influenced the representatives of the given empire as well. Nonetheless, colonialism is often blamed for leaving many territories within “third world” ball park, and rightfully so: the countries under the direct influence of empires were unprepared to face existence on their own. The problem was that many countries were used to being chaperoned, but when left to themselves and without supervision, things started falling apart swiftly, particularly in Africa.
The first factor, which contributed to the appearance of third world countries in the 20th centuries, is slavery. Africa became most influenced by this social institute, which was ruthlessly imposed on the natives. Europeans demanded work force in the western hemisphere, as their population, or rather the number of volunteers, was not nearly high enough to ensure the successful development of colonies there. One has to remember that African slavery existed long before the Europeans discovered it as the effective replenishing source of cheap and quality work force. What Europeans did, was marrying slavery to European technological progress and, therefore, make the process more efficient. Europeans allowed for larger quantities of newly drafter slaves to be transported at a faster speed across greater distance. The first European countries, which started participation in the slavery game were Spain and Portugal. Britain, France, and Holland joined later.
Overall, approximately 11 million Africans were transported to either the Caribbean, North, or South America as slaves by European colonizers (King 24). The best, smartest, fittest, were removed from many parts of Africa, depriving whole nations of quality genetic fund. Moreover, the mentality and the social truths such as “being a slave is normal, there is no other acceptable order in this world” influenced many in a negative way. They stopped having any assurance that they are able to do anything. Most still failed to understand that living under such oppression is ridiculous. Sadly enough, it were the colonial empires that realized: keeping the natives under such tight supervision, giving not a glimpse of free will in the decision making processes, is wrong on many levels. So, many countries received independence and freedom of unseen proportions. In some cases, it did not lead to negative consequences, as was the case with Vietnam, which has been enjoying relative stability and calm after the end of the Vietnam war. Others were not so lucky.
Many countries in Africa were buried under endless civil wars and banditism. Somali remains the only active and dangerous concentration of pirates – something unthinkable within the twenty-first century. Southern Africa is home to numerous drug cartels, which de facto rule the land. India fell apart in two with Pakistan separating swiftly after the English conceded and retreated homeward (White 427). The only successful colonies were those, where the native dwellers were suppressed entirely and replaced with the newcomers – all of Northern America and Australia.
Another major reason for the former colonies’ downfall was the exploitation of natural resources and almost no investment the other way from the paternal newly-established governing state. Here lies an interesting parallel: Aztecs spread around territories, because there was constant need of sacrificial victims acquisition (Padgen, 5), but Spaniards, on the other hand, were after material resources solely, and the people were just a temporary instrument to get them. Moreover, valuable resources were of no value the Aztec, because it was abundant and nobody, within the framework of their civilization, thought of using it as currency and payment for things and services. If they had held their ground, and stood against the conquistadors, they would have been the strongest state economically in the entire world as with money they could have bought lots of knowledge necessary for catching up with Europe progress wise. They were fooled, however, and gold was taken away, while none was invested back. Same fate awaited the Inca empire, where Pizarro easily captured the head of the state and demanded one room full of gold and two of silver.
Colonies turned into third world countries due to the negligent stance of “paternal” countries to their subjects: exploitation, extraction of valuable resources, minimal investments into the colonies – all these factors contributed to the slowly developing economy (favelas still in the modern Rio de Janeiro, for instance), civil unrest and often bloodshed (Africa), and hostility between religious groups, who were forced to live under one roof quietly before (India).
- King, Russell. People on the Move: An Atlas of Migration. Berkeley, LA: University of California Press, 2010. Print.
- Padgen, Anthony. Peoples and Empires. New York: Modern Library, 2003. Print.
- Thong, Tenzenlo. Civilized Colonizers and Barbaric Colonized: Reclaiming Naga Identity by Demythologizing Colonial Portraits. History and Anthropology 23, no.3, 2012. Print.
- White, Matthew. The Great Big Book of Horrible Things. London: W. W. Norton & Co. Ltd., 2012. Print.