Where did Europeans fail?

Europeans were able to come to dominate only some lands: where and why did they fail?
Traditional explanations for failed colonies:
Explanations for success:
Portugese trader as seen by the Japanese
Portugese as seen by the Japanese

China, Korea, Japan had strong civilizations of their own and agriculture and diseases much like Europe--Europeans were unable to take over

  Africa had many parasites and diseases Europeans were not resistant to, and were occupied by large numbers of natives

Tropical Africa was more than Europeans could conquer until their technology improved--the native people had the ecological advantage  (technologies: jeeps instead of horses, understanding of the germ theory of disease)

Annual death rate among British soldiers in early 1800s:
  • stationed in England: 15 per thousand
  • stationed in the West Indies: 85 to 130 per thousand
  • stationed in West Africa: over 500 per thousand

European livestock did better in South America than in Africa--the disease and parasite problems both for humans and livestock were less, though they brought some from Africa with the slaves to work on plantations after the natives were nearly eradicated.

Europeans did better in places that hadn't been exposed to European diseases and didn't have a lot of diseases of their own
Europeans were at a disadvantage in tropical areas, unless they were isolated
What about tropical islands?
Only a few exceptions of European success in becoming the large majority in tropical places, like Queensland, Australia.  Not many diseases made it there and they used prisoners for labor not slaves

Before 1800, European colonization was not very successful in tropical places, particularly those where European diseases were already present

Why was Europe able to colonize more places after 1800?--improved technology
British Empire in early 20th Century (change over time)
map showing
              british empire
What are these areas like today?
in South Africa, for a while, whites who were descendents of settlers continued to control the indigenous people--note that South Africa has a temperate climate, not a tropical climate

What explains these differences?

This page written and copyright Pamela E. Mack
last updated 1/25/10
Hist 124