Why do the peoples of virtually all the temperate forests rule the planet, economically and politically?

The major temperate forest regions of the world include: the Eastern United States, Northern Europe, Japan, the Pacific Northwestern US, Eastern Australia, and parts of Eastern China. These are basically the highest GNP-producing areas in the world. Certainly colder climates have the reputation for breeding no-nonsense work ethics. But these aren’t the coldest areas on the planet by any means. And they’re not the most densely populated, either. So what’s the secret?



  1. 0 Votes

    There is an interesting book on this subject called Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond, and I encourage you to go check it out from your local library. He argues that due to the horizontal orientation of Eurasia, the various regions of it had fairly similar climactic profiles, making it easy to spread information, technology, and resources from place to place. Vertically oriented continents like Africa and the Americas contain very dramatic differences in climate that block the spread of information, technology, and resources from place to place.

    Diamond believed the success of peoples living in temperate forest was not about their location as much as it was about the resources and technology available to these peoples. You mention Australia and North America as prosperous regions of the world where temperate forest climates occur, but this prosperity only occurred after settlers of European origin had managed to thoroughly conquer the native inhabitants of those regions. Europeans were uniquely positioned to do this because technology could easily spread throughout Eurasia and due to the fact that Europeans had settled in Europe before Aborigines settled in Australia or Native Americans settled in North America, giving them more time to develop new technologies than the latter two peoples. 

    Incidentally, Europeans were familiar with areas with temperate forest climates, and because of this familiarity, they established themselves in these areas much more easily (as opposed to former European colonies in Africa, for instance). Hopefully the reasons cited above have given you a broader perspective on the question.

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