For most of human history, traveling long distances was incredibly difficult, so settlements that were far apart didn’t have much contact with each other. As time went on expeditions started to discover distant lands, but for the most part a civilization in, say, China, would be completely ignorant of those in South Africa. Europeans didn’t even know the Americas existed before 500 years ago!
Globalization refers to the fact that for the first time in history, the entire world is connected. We have maps of all the different countries, can travel easily by car or by plane, and through the telephone, Internet and mail we can communicate. Our cultures can spread with more ease than ever before and, perhaps most significantly, our economies are connected.
This is seen as a bad thing by some people, as the mass export of Western culture threatens to erode the traditional practices of once-isolated civilizations. Rich countries also threaten to exploit the economies of poor ones. But globalization is also cause for great hope. Because for the first time, the entire human family is connected.
In the late 19th century and early 20th century, the industrial revolution combined with new forms of transportation and communication, allowing industrialized nations like the UK and the US to transport their goods worldwide on a more massive scale than ever before. This initiated what is now called “globalization.” Since not all receiving countries were industrialized, but were rather “developing,” globalization often went hand in hand with imperialism, as powerful, industrialized, capitalist countries were able to exploit less wealthy countries, often forcing those countries to import their products rather than use their own domestic products. Globalization refers not only to global capitalism, but also to the spread of multi-culturalism across the globe, all of which was made possible by new forms of transportation (air flight, faster boats, cars) and communication (the telephone, and later the internet).
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