Colonial prosperity vs current poverty: A pure illusion or the partially truth?

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,497
Florania
#1
Some may mention that some countries were more prosperous as colonies than as independent states.
Let's pick Haiti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.
If inflation is taken into account, the GDP per capital at independence might be substantially higher than today.
Did Haiti really thrive as a colony? While it was one of the first Caribbean country, it is the only LDC (least developed country) in the Western hemisphere.
The Dominican Republic isn't exactly developed (like North Korea vs South Korea or Oman vs Yemen), but it is still way more developed than Haiti.
I have been to Labadee, Haiti for a swim, but I won't say that I have experienced Haiti.
Why was Labadee rented to Royal Caribbean in the first place and the lease continues?
Democratic Republic of Congo has immense mineral wealth, but it is one of the least developed country in the world today.
It was not always this way; at independence, it was claimed to be only behind South Africa in development.
Zimbabwe thrived during early independence, then it descended into economic collapse.
Mozambique had higher GDP per capital at independence than today (if inflation is taken into account), in spite of two decades of relative peace.
Is it true that these countries were prosperous as colonies and descended into poverty after independence?
 
Mar 2011
5,047
Brazil
#2
Usually colonization has been terrible for most countries. Look at the only large country that was never colonized by the West: Japan. It quickly converged to Western levels while countries that were heavily colonized like India continued to lag behind and only now are converging to the Western level of development.
 

tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
13,547
#3
Usually colonization has been terrible for most countries. Look at the only large country that was never colonized by the West: Japan. It quickly converged to Western levels while countries that were heavily colonized like India continued to lag behind and only now are converging to the Western level of development.
First there is already a thread in the philosophy section on this topic

http://historum.com/philosophy-poli...ormer-western-colonies-still-undeveloped.html

Second Japan is a rather special case.... Turkey has never been colonized either but it is far behind Japan
 
May 2015
1,301
Germany
#4
Second Japan is a rather special case.... Turkey has never been colonized either but it is far behind Japan
While never becoming a world dominating industrial power like Japan, Turkey still massively westernized and industrialized itself after WW1. Question is just how long that is gonna last with Erdogan. If nothing changes I give Turkey solid 50 years.
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
#5
Usually colonization has been terrible for most countries. Look at the only large country that was never colonized by the West: Japan. It quickly converged to Western levels while countries that were heavily colonized like India continued to lag behind and only now are converging to the Western level of development.
I think it puts the situation backwarda - many countries were first colonized because they were poor and lagged behind, making the easier targets for conquest. While colonial policies didn't help, in most cases they lagged behind before they became colonies. Illiteracy is high in Africa, but it was very high in Africa before their were European colonies. Compare the Great Zimbwe with a Gothic cathedral built aroud the same time. There is almost a complete absence of writing on the Great Zimbabwe , while even a casual glance around a Gothic cathedral would show you numerous examples of writing, on the stain glass windows, on carvings around the door. The printing press sat largely unused by India for the better part of 300 years before the British conquered India, and it would be very difficult to achieve universal literacy without printing.

As noted, Japan is a special case. China too lagged behind, although it was never colonized, and at the time of India's independence it was comparable to China in development. It is just in tne last few decades of the 20th century China surged far ahead of India. Is it Western powers fault for high illiteracy rates exist in their ex-colonies, when even higher illiteracy rates existed before they became colonies? True, they didn't do much to rally make things better, but they didn't create the conditions in the first place
 
Aug 2014
1,170
Portugal
#6
I think it puts the situation backwarda - many countries were first colonized because they were poor and lagged behind, making the easier targets for conquest.
I don't think we can verify that. I'm not sure The kingdoms of Morocco were poorer than Portugal in 15th century.

While colonial policies didn't help, in most cases they lagged behind before they became colonies.
It is far more complex than this. The territories colonized by Europeans were vast and some were even in Europe.

Illiteracy is high in Africa, but it was very high in Africa before their were European colonies.
Illiteracy was high in Europe when Europeans started the colonization process (in the Middle Ages). Illiteracy does not mean necessarily backwardness and poverty. And illiteracy is not a crime to be punished with colonial domination.

Compare the Great Zimbwe with a Gothic cathedral built aroud the same time. There is almost a complete absence of writing on the Great Zimbabwe , while even a casual glance around a Gothic cathedral would show you numerous examples of writing, on the stain glass windows, on carvings around the door. The printing press sat largely unused by India for the better part of 300 years before the British conquered India, and it would be very difficult to achieve universal literacy without printing.
Yet there was literate people in vast regions of Africa, Asia and the Americas. Regions with literate people were also colonized.

Is it Western powers fault for high illiteracy rates exist in their ex-colonies, when even higher illiteracy rates existed before they became colonies? True, they didn't do much to rally make things better, but they didn't create the conditions in the first place

A colony was under the rule of a colonial power. The colonial powers were ruling these regions. It was their responsibility to develop these regions, the same way any government/authority is responsible for the development of a province, town in the home country. And colonial powers often said they were developing their colonies, bringing civilization, etc.

Yet, most colonial authorities were not interested in developing the colonies. For most of the time education was only for the settlers, the colonists, not the natives.

Yes it was the fault and the responsibility of the colonial powers.

I think an independent and free development is better than (direct or indirect) colonization. If you are colonized it is possible you'll be plagued by social and economical problems for centuries. I don't think there are many prosperous countries today who were colonies in the last 400 years. Maybe south Korea and Singapore?

And I am not saying that countries who were never colonized will always become rich and prosperous countries.
 

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,497
Florania
#7
I don't think we can verify that. I'm not sure The kingdoms of Morocco were poorer than Portugal in 15th century.



It is far more complex than this. The territories colonized by Europeans were vast and some were even in Europe.



Illiteracy was high in Europe when Europeans started the colonization process (in the Middle Ages). Illiteracy does not mean necessarily backwardness and poverty. And illiteracy is not a crime to be punished with colonial domination.



Yet there was literate people in vast regions of Africa, Asia and the Americas. Regions with literate people were also colonized.




A colony was under the rule of a colonial power. The colonial powers were ruling these regions. It was their responsibility to develop these regions, the same way any government/authority is responsible for the development of a province, town in the home country. And colonial powers often said they were developing their colonies, bringing civilization, etc.

Yet, most colonial authorities were not interested in developing the colonies. For most of the time education was only for the settlers, the colonists, not the natives.

Yes it was the fault and the responsibility of the colonial powers.

I think an independent and free development is better than (direct or indirect) colonization. If you are colonized it is possible you'll be plagued by social and economical problems for centuries. I don't think there are many prosperous countries today who were colonies in the last 400 years. Maybe south Korea and Singapore?

And I am not saying that countries who were never colonized will always become rich and prosperous countries.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_past_and_projected_GDP_(nominal)_per_capita

How did something that drastic happen to countries like Ghana and Argentina (sudden rise and drop)?
I recently opened an Ethiopia thread and want to inquire why it failed to modernize.
 

tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
13,547
#8
While never becoming a world dominating industrial power like Japan, Turkey still massively westernized and industrialized itself after WW1. Question is just how long that is gonna last with Erdogan. If nothing changes I give Turkey solid 50 years.
I am not aware of any significant local industry in Turkey other than textile/shoes/agriculture related
 

tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
13,547
#9
I don't think we can verify that. I'm not sure The kingdoms of Morocco were poorer than Portugal in 15th century.

.
So why was Portugal able to take ports in Morocco instead of the other way around ?

Why were the portuguese able to navigate to Africa, Asia and America and not the moroccans ?

 
Aug 2014
1,170
Portugal
#10
So why was Portugal able to take ports in Morocco instead of the other way around ?

Why were the portuguese able to navigate to Africa, Asia and America and not the moroccans ?

Moroccans didn't need to navigate to subsaharan Africa because they already had access to the African gold by land routes. Portuguese could only reach it by sea.

The Portuguese expanded to North Africa when the territory was divided. As soon as the region was reunited Portugal was defeated , had to leave the region and even lost its independence.

I don't think India or China were also poorer than Portugal when the Portuguese arrived.