As a result, China very early became dominated by two huge geographic core areas of high productivity, themselves only weakly separated from each other and eventually fused into a single core.
Europe's two biggest rivers, the Rhine and Danube, are smaller and connect much less of Europe.
Unlike China, Europe has many scattered small core areas, none big enough to dominate the others for long, and each the center of chronically independent states.
MORE IDEAS ON THIS
Thus, geographic connectedness and only modest internal barriers gave China an initial advantage.
North China, South China, the coast, and the interior contributed different crops, livestock, technologies, and cultural features to the eventually unified China.
For example, millet cu...
Hence the real problem in understanding China's loss of political and technological preeminence to Europe is to understand China's chronic unity and Europe's chronic disunity.
The answer is again suggested by maps. Europe has a highly indented coastline, with five large peninsulas that app...
In contrast, Europe has never come remotely close to political unification: it was still splintered into 1,000 independent statelets in the 14th century, into 500 statelets in A.D. 1500, got down to a minimum of 25 states in the 1980s, and is now up again to nearly 40 at the moment that I write t...
Europe has two islands (Britain and Ireland) sufficiently big to assert their political independence and to maintain their own languages and ethnicities, and one of them (Britain) big and close enough to become a major independent European power.
But even China's two largest islands, Tai...
Europe is carved up into' independent linguistic, ethnic, and political units by high mountains (the Alps, Pyrenees, Carpathians, and Norwegian border mountains), while China's mountains east of the Tibetan plateau are much less formidable barriers.
China's heartland is bound together fr...
The positives and negatives of geographic unity and disunity for nation states:
"China's frequent unity and Europe's perpetual disunity both have a long history. The most productive areas of modern China were politically joined for the first time in 221 B.C. and have remained so for most of...
Once China was finally unified, in 221 B.C., no other independent state ever had a chance of arising and persisting for long in China.
Although periods of disunity returned several times after 221 B.C., they always ended in reunification.
But the unification of Europe has resisted t...
But China's connectedness eventually became a disadvantage, because a decision by one despot could and repeatedly did halt innovation.
In contrast, Europe's geographic balkanization resulted in dozens or hundreds of independent, competing statelets and centers of innovation.
There has never been one despot who could turn off the tap for all of Europe, as of China.
These comparisons suggest that geographic connectedness has exerted both positive and negative effects on the evolution of technology.
As a result, in the very long run, technology may have dev...
Explore the World’s
Take Your Ideas
Just press play and we take care of the words.
2 Million Stashers
Read & Learn
Access to 200,000+ ideas
Access to the mobile app
Unlimited idea saving & library
Unlimited listening to ideas
Downloading & offline access
Supercharge your mind with one idea per day
Enter your email and spend 1 minute every day to learn something new.
I agree to receive email updates