Tomas Pueyo Profile picture
Author Hammer & the Dance. 100M+ reads. CPO of tech unicorn Ankorstore. I analyze how the world works to shape the future. Join 40k ppl in my free newsletter:

Dec 7, 2021, 14 tweets

Why Europeans colonized America before Africa, in two maps and one story:

Map 1:

Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean, has been part of the Eurasian cultures for thousands of years.

South of that, it didn't get conquered until the 19th century, while America got conquered 3 centuries earlier despite being farther. Why?

For centuries, there was the Sahara barrier. The distance to cross was just too big. Impossible by foot, and only possible by sea through the Red Sea in the East, on the path to India, because of inhabitable stops on both sides

I explain in this article why going beyond ports was really hard. Basically: no Suez canal, hard to build/transport fleets, far from home, few local stops... Trade possible, invasion hard

So this is why, for centuries, Subsaharan Africa was out of reach.…

But why was it out of reach once ships could sail all the way to America? Couldn't armies just sail past the Sahara?

They could. And then they'd die.
Because of this guy.

Map 2:

As Europe grew and its ships improved, they immediately started sailing down the western coast.

But people and cattle putting a foot in Africa dropped dead immediately when they caught Malaria

So for centuries, Europeans had no presence in Africa except for a few trading posts on the coast. This is from 1850

What changed?
Now Europeans survived in Africa.
What were failed invasions before could now start.

And this is the change from 1880 to 1914, just before WWI. This period is called the Scramble for Africa. Just about 30 years.

So these two maps explain why Europeans didn't colonize Africa until the end of the 19th century: the Sahara barrier and the Malaria barrier.

Obviously, malaria breeds where there's heavy rainfall, so the quick transition between Sahara and Malaria areas was crucial.

Here's another thread on why Africa is the way it is

And one on why the Caribbean is the way it is

And one on why China is the way it is

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