The map above presents a very short history of colonialism around the world from 1492-2008 in one simple GIF. Interestingly, it doesn’t limit itself to European colonialism but also includes the colonial empires of the United States, Russia/Soviet Union and Japan.
It includes the borders of the following colonial empires:
- British Empire
- French colonial empire
- Portuguese Empire
- Spanish Empire
- Russian Empire & the Soviet Union
- Ottoman Empire
- Danish colonial empire
- Dutch Empire
- American Empire
- Belgian colonial empire
- Italian Empire
- German colonial empire
- Empire of Japan
In total 11 snapshot years are looked at. They are:
- 1492: The year Columbus “discovered” the Americas.
- 1550: The start of the Valladolid debate
- 1660: Start of the English restoration.
- 1754: The eve of the Seven Years’ War, known as the French and Indian War in America. One of the first wars fought around the world.
- 1822: Brazil declares independence from Portugal.
- 1885: Berlin Conference formalizing the Scramble for Africa.
- 1914: The eve of World War 1.
- 1938: The year before World War 2 breaks out in Europe, although World War 2 in Asia had already begun.
- 1959: The year before France grants independence to its remaining French colonies in Africa.
- 1974: The year before Portugal recognizes the independence of Mozambique and Angola.
- 2008: The year the map was originally made.
If you’d like to learn more about colonialism the following books may be of interest:
- Empires in World History: Power and the Politics of Difference
- Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
- Why the West Rules–for Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future
- The Birth of the Modern World, 1780-1914
- Discourse on Colonialism
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