Resources and State Development
Ever since the dawn of human civilization natural resources and environmental features played the major role in the development of states. The first human settlements originated in the regions rich in land and water resources. Water resources were also important in other historical epochs. Closeness to the seas and oceans gave additional privileges to the states since this factor enabled their fast expansion by grasping new lands overseas.
This process started in the 16th century and reached its climax in the 19th century. It is possible to argue that there were two main factors that turned the states into huge empires. The first factor was closeness to the water bodies and the second factor was the need of expansion which meant grasping valuable natural resources. Colonialism became the main trend of international policy in the nineteenth century. Such countries as Great Britain, Japan, Spain and France became great empires and at the expense of colonies they immensely increased their territories.
Expansion was very important for all these states since with the development of industry there appeared a need of having other natural resources. It had political, economic and social aspects. Taking colonies meant getting access to new resources of raw materials necessary for manufacturing of various goods, opening new markets for the products manufactured in Europe, getting access to cheap labor resources, and increasing the spheres of political influence. In the 19th century all major European nations started to compete for establishing colonies in different parts of the world. Asian, American and African continents became very desirable regions for establishing and maintaining colonies mainly because of their natural resources. Colonialism was advocated in many ways.
The scholars indicate that “Advocates on both sides of the border believed that through a combination of preexisting skills, hard work and access to natural resources, colonists would uplift not only themselves but their host countries as well.” Though colonization was conducted under a very decent pretext, its main aim was far from being good. Colonizers wanted to have access to resources they could not get in their home countries. This fact is easy to explain taking into consideration a disproportion between available resources and the demands of growing industry observed in Europe. While in Europe there was a relative scarcity of raw materials, Africa, Asia and America had them in abundance. So, the first motif of grasping new colonies was an economic one. In the 19th century Europe went through the period of industrial revolution. It was a period when industry was developing fast and Europe received a considerable advantage over other continents.
Britain, for instance, had an advanced fleet, army and industry and it enabled this relatively small country to become a biggest empire of its time. It was also a period associated with the formation of industrial society. It was a society in which a large technically advanced industry was the basis of the leading economics and related social structures. New …