Why are the countries with the longest civilizations, like China, Iraq, Egypt, and India, generally poorer per capita?




Gary Allen, Trying to keep current is exhausting.

That poverty is a widespread condition in these areas where the oldest civilizations first developed is true, at present, but there are strong indications that change is underway which will correct that.  The thousands of years which these senior civilizations have remained on their territories means that dense populations have harvested many crops, which has led to the impoverishment of the soil.  Being the first to arrive at complex societies meant that these areas made mistakes which no one had enough information to understand and resolve.


Egypt's prosperity throughout the ancient kingdoms was largely due to the annual flooding of the Nile.  After all, Egypt's surplus grain fed the Romans for a couple of hundred years.  In recent times, the building of the Aswan High Dam has blocked so much of the Nile's flow that the valley soil is less rich and the Delta is beginning to sink back into the Mediterranean Sea in places from the lack of renewing silt.


Iraq is in a largely hot, desert climate and only the widespread use of irrigation allowed it to prosper and maintain large populations.  Irrigation is a short-term solution, and the lands in Iraq have fallen useless for periods of time, because irrigation ultimately poisons the soil with metals.  After a hundred years or so, the soil has then been reclaimed and re-irrigated time and again.  Iraq, like Egypt, has such deep problems with a functioning government that people today are suffering, even with the influx of oil wealth, but there is no reason to believe this cannot be overcome again.


India has been a highly productive land with a dense population for a very long time, but its success in producing more food during the 20th century has also led to a huge ballooning of its population.  If India can continue as a democracy, it is likely to make wise enough decisions to outlive this swelling of the population; then, as future generations arise, a rational limiting of the birth rate will allow everyone to live a well-fed, decent life.


China has had a river problem, too, but in China's case it was at least three major rivers which flooded frequently--to great benefit in the growing of rice and other cereals, but with frequent damage and loss of life.  China has suffered during the 19th and 20th centuries from foreign interference in its own government, and then when it did reunify, has suffered from mismanagement by a rigid and authoritarian system which destroyed almost as much as it built.


The sooner each of these cultural regions finds sustainable solutions to their problems of overuse and overpopulation, the sooner they will put poverty behind them.



Ahhaan Badhwar, Indian learning about China

The Indian and Chinese civilizations have been the most populated civilazations in history leaving Iraq and Egypt aside.Before the Industrial Revolution, populations grew in relation to the resources available to them. If a region had a stable climate, good soil, and plenty of water, the population would rise quickly. Eastern China and India were such regions.



Both India and China had massive control over the world’s GDP till end of the 19th century.


The condition of India, its economy, its people and institutions, before the British rule is described again based mainly on foreign traveller’s accounts or reputed Western sources.They show that India in no way was backward, economically or socially. INDIA BEFORE THE BRITISH RULE HAD THE SECOND MOST POWERFUL ECONOMY IN THE WORLD and dominated the world trade by its exports.


译文来源:三泰虎 http://www.santaihu.com/46381.html    译者:Jessica.Wu


It was India’s riches that had attracted hoards of invaders for millennia before the British that made the seafarers like Columbus and Vasco De Gama seek new trade routes to it.The Brithish rule lead to a total decline of Indian cotton industry and British cotton was sold in Indian markets.


India suffered a period of stagnation for around 350 years from 1600 till 1950. The problem originated because there was a decline in demand for Indian products such as weapons, jewelry, and luxurious textiles such as muslin (Maddison 2006). . Moreover, the interests of the British rulers were not aligned with the interests of the Indian subjects.


Floods had always been a problem for China leading to alot of turmoil.



The Yellow River or Huang He is the second-longest river in Asia, following the Yangtze River, and the sixth-longest river system in the world at the estimated length of 5,464 km (3,395 mi).


26-3395 mi.png

Its basin was the birthplace of ancient Chinese civilization, and it was the most prosperous region in early Chinese history. However, because of frequent devastating floods and course changes produced by the continual elevation of the river bed, sometimes above the level of its surrounding farm fields, it also has the names China's Sorrow and 'Scourge of the Han People'


Since 600 BC, the Chinese have recorded over 1,500 floods, earning it the name “China’s Sorrow.” Across the world there are rivers with valleys more populous, the Yangtze for instance



After the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1912, China underwent a period of instability and disrupted economic activity. Later on China went through major events such as Japanese invasion in 1937,Great Leap Forward, 1958–60,The Cultural Revolution decade 1966–7 which distrubed the economic prosperity of the region.

1912年清王朝覆灭后,中国经历了一段不稳定时期,经济发展中断。后来,中国经历了一些重大事件,如1937年的日本入侵、1958-60年的大跃进、1966 - 1976年的文革,这些事件影响了该地区的经济繁荣。

The ancient Egyptian civilization depended heavily on river Nile.Although the glory of this civilization did’nt last very long as Greek Ptolemaic Kingdom ruled Egypt until 30 BC, when, under Cleopatra, it fell to the Roman Empire and became a Roman province. The success of ancient Egyptian civilization came partly from its ability to adapt to the conditions of the Nile River valley for agriculture.


Later on in 642- Egypt conquered by rashidun caliphate and later on by Ottoman Turks in 1517.



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