History Podcasts

Major Events in Asian History 1900- 2018 - History

Major Events in Asian History 1900- 2018 - History

A Historical Timeline of Afghanistan

The land that is now Afghanistan has a long history of domination by foreign conquerors and strife among internally warring factions. At the gateway between Asia and Europe, this land was conquered by Darius I of Babylonia circa 500 B.C., and Alexander the Great of Macedonia in 329 B.C., among others.

Mahmud of Ghazni, an 11th century conqueror who created an empire from Iran to India, is considered the greatest of Afghanistan’s conquerors.

Genghis Khan took over the territory in the 13th century, but it wasn’t until the 1700s that the area was united as a single country. By 1870, after the area had been invaded by various Arab conquerors, Islam had taken root.

During the 19th century, Britain, looking to protect its Indian empire from Russia, attempted to annex Afghanistan, resulting in a series of British-Afghan Wars (1838-42, 1878-80, 1919-21).

The British, beleaguered in the wake of World War I, are defeated in the Third British-Afghan War (1919-21), and Afghanistan becomes an independent nation. Concerned that Afghanistan has fallen behind the rest of the world, Amir Amanullah Khan begins a rigorous campaign of socioeconomic reform.

Amanullah declares Afghanistan a monarchy, rather than an emirate, and proclaims himself king. He launches a series of modernization plans and attempts to limit the power of the Loya Jirga, the National Council. Critics, frustrated by Amanullah’s policies, take up arms in 1928 and by 1929, the king abdicates and leaves the country.

Zahir Shah becomes king. The new king brings a semblance of stability to the country and he rules for the next 40 years.

The United States formally recognizes Afghanistan.

Britain withdraws from India, creating the predominantly Hindu but secular state of India and the Islamic state of Pakistan. The nation of Pakistan includes a long, largely uncontrollable, border with Afghanistan.

The pro-Soviet Gen. Mohammed Daoud Khan, cousin of the king, becomes prime minister and looks to the communist nation for economic and military assistance. He also introduces a number of social reforms including allowing women a more public presence.

Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev agrees to help Afghanistan, and the two countries become close allies.

As part of Daoud’s reforms, women are allowed to attend university and enter the workforce.

The Afghan Communist Party secretly forms. The group’s principal leaders are Babrak Karmal and Nur Mohammad Taraki.

Khan overthrows the last king, Mohammed Zahir Shah, in a military coup. Khan’s regime, the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan, comes to power. Khan abolishes the monarchy and names himself president. The Republic of Afghanistan is established with firm ties to the USSR.

Khan proposes a new constitution that grants women rights and works to modernize the largely communist state. He also cracks down on opponents, forcing many suspected of not supporting Khan out of the government.

Khan is killed in a communist coup. Nur Mohammad Taraki, one of the founding members of the Afghan Communist Party, takes control of the country as president, and Babrak Karmal is named deputy prime minister. They proclaim independence from Soviet influence, and declare their policies to be based on Islamic principles, Afghan nationalism and socioeconomic justice. Taraki signs a friendship treaty with the Soviet Union. But a rivalry between Taraki and Hafizullah Amin, another influential communist leader, leads to fighting between the two sides.

At the same time, conservative Islamic and ethnic leaders who objected to social changes introduced by Khan begin an armed revolt in the countryside. In June, the guerrilla movement Mujahadeen is created to battle the Soviet-backed government.

American Ambassador Adolph Dubs is killed. The United States cuts off assistance to Afghanistan. A power struggle between Taraki and Deputy Prime Minister Hafizullah Amin begins. Taraki is killed on Sept. 14 in a confrontation with Amin supporters.

The USSR invades Afghanistan on Dec. 24 to bolster the faltering communist regime. On Dec. 27, Amin and many of his followers are executed. Deputy Prime Minister Babrak Karmal becomes prime minister. Widespread opposition to Karmal and the Soviets spawns violent public demonstrations.

By early 1980, the Mujahadeen rebels have united against Soviet invaders and the USSR-backed Afghan Army.

Some 2.8 million Afghans have fled from the war to Pakistan, and another 1.5 million have fled to Iran. Afghan guerrillas gain control of rural areas, and Soviet troops hold urban areas.

Although he claims to have traveled to Afghanistan immediately after the Soviet invasion, Saudi Islamist Osama bin Laden makes his first documented trip to Afghanistan to aid anti-Soviet fighters.

The United Nations investigates reported human rights violations in Afghanistan.

The Mujahadeen are receiving arms from the United States, Britain and China via Pakistan.

In September, Osama bin Laden and 15 other Islamists form the group al-Qaida, or “the base”, to continue their jihad, or holy war, against the Soviets and other who they say oppose their goal of a pure nation governed by Islam. With their belief that the Soviet’s faltering war in Afghanistan was directly attributable to their fighting, they claim victory in their first battle, but also begin to shift their focus to America, saying the remaining superpower is the main obstacle to the establishment of a state based on Islam.

The U.S., Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Soviet Union sign peace accords in Geneva guaranteeing Afghan independence and the withdrawal of 100,000 Soviet troops. Following Soviet withdrawal, the Mujahadeen continue their resistance against the Soviet-backed regime of communist president Dr. Mohammad Najibullah, who had been elected president of the puppet Soviet state in 1986. Afghan guerrillas name Sibhatullah Mojadidi as head of their exiled government.

The Mujahadeen and other rebel groups, with the aid of turncoat government troops, storm the capital, Kabul, and oust Najibullah from power. Ahmad Shah Masood, legendary guerrilla leader, leads the troops into the capital. The United Nations offers protection to Najibullah. The Mujahadeen, a group already beginning to fracture as warlords fight over the future of Afghanistan, form a largely Islamic state with professor Burhannudin Rabbani as president.

Newly formed Islamic militia, the Taliban, rises to power on promises of peace. Most Afghans, exhausted by years of drought, famine and war, approve of the Taliban for upholding traditional Islamic values. The Taliban outlaw cultivation of poppies for the opium trade, crack down on crime, and curtail the education and employment of women. Women are required to be fully veiled and are not allowed outside alone. Islamic law is enforced via public executions and amputations. The United States refuses to recognize the authority of the Taliban.

Continuing drought devastates farmers and makes many rural areas uninhabitable. More than 1 million Afghans flee to neighboring Pakistan, where they languish in squalid refugee camps.

The Taliban publicly executes Najibullah.

Ethnic groups in the north, under Masood’s Northern Alliance, and the south, aided in part by Hamid Karzai, continue to battle the Taliban for control of the country.

Following al-Qaida’s bombings of two American embassies in Africa, President Clinton orders cruise missile attacks against bin Laden’s training camps in Afghanistan. The attacks miss the Saudi and other leaders of the terrorist group.

By now considered an international terrorist, bin Laden is widely believed to be hiding in Afghanistan, where he is cultivating thousands of followers in terrorist training camps. The United States demands that bin Laden be extradited to stand trial for the embassy bombings. The Taliban decline to extradite him. The United Nations punishes Afghanistan with sanctions restricting trade and economic development.

Ignoring international protests, the Taliban carry out their threat to destroy Buddhist statues in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, saying they are an affront to Islam.

Sept. 4, 2001

A month after arresting them, the Taliban put eight international aid workers on trial for spreading Christianity. Under Taliban rule, proselytizing is punishable by death. The group is held in various Afghan prisons for months and finally released Nov. 15.

Sept. 9, 2001

Masood, still head of the Northern Alliance and the nation’s top insurgent, is killed by assassins posing as journalists.

Sept. 11, 2001

Hijackers commandeer four commercial airplanes and crash them into the World Trade Center Towers in New York, the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania field, killing thousands. Days later, U.S. officials say bin Laden, the Saudi exile believed to be hiding in Afghanistan, is the prime suspect in the attack.

Following unanswered demands that the Taliban turn over bin Laden, U.S. and British forces launch airstrikes against targets in Afghanistan. American warplanes start to bomb Taliban targets and bases reportedly belonging to the al-Qaida network. The Taliban proclaim they are ready for jihad.

Nov. 13, 2001

After weeks of intense fighting with Taliban troops, the Northern Alliance enters Kabul. The retreating Taliban flee southward toward Kandahar.

Taliban fighters abandon their final stronghold in Kandahar as the militia group’s hold on Afghanistan continues to disintegrate. Two days later, Taliban leaders surrender the group’s final Afghan territory, the province of Zabul. The move leads the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press to declare “the rule of the Taliban in Afghanistan has totally ended.”

Dec. 22, 2001

Hamid Karzai, a royalist and ethnic Pashtun, is sworn in as the leader of the interim government in Afghanistan. Karzai entered Afghanistan after living in exile for years in neighboring Pakistan. At the U.N.-sponsored conference to determine an interim government, Karzai already has the support of the United States and by the end of the conference is elected leader of the six-month government.

In June, the Loya Jirga, or grand council, elects U.S.-backed Hamid Karzai as interim leader. Karzai chooses the members of his government who will serve until 2004, when the government is required to organize elections.

Amid increased violence, NATO takes over security in Kabul in August. The effort is the security organization’s first-ever commitment outside of Europe.

January 2004

The Loya Jirga adopts a new constitution following input from nearly 500,000 Afghans, some of whom participate in public meetings in villages. The new constitution calls for a president and two vice presidents, but the office of prime minister is removed at the last minute. The official languages, according to the constitution, are Pashto and Dari. Also, the new constitution calls for equality for women.

October 2004

Presidential elections are held. More than 10.5 million Afghans register to vote and choose among 18 presidential candidates, including interim leader Karzai. Karzai is elected with 55 percent of the vote.

The nation holds its first parliamentary elections in more than 30 years. The peaceful vote leads to the parliament’s first meeting in December.

Amid continuing fighting between Taliban and al-Qaida fighters and the Afghan government forces, NATO expands its peacekeeping operation to the southern portion of the country. After the forces take over from American-led troops, Taliban fighters launch a bloody wave of suicide attacks and raids against the international troops.

The Afghan government and NATO confirm that Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah was killed during a U.S.-led operation in southern Afghanistan.

The international community pledges more than $15 billion in aid to Afghanistan at a donors’ conference in Paris, while Afghan President Hamid Karzai promises to fight corruption in the government.

President Barack Obama names Richard Holbrooke as a special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Mr. Obama announces a new strategy for the Afghanistan war that would dispatch more military and civilian trainers to the country, in addition to the 17,000 more combat troops he previously ordered. The strategy also includes assistance to Pakistan in its fight against militants.

President Barack Obama accepts Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s resignation as the top commander in Afghanistan, over critical comments he made in a Rolling Stone article, and nominates Gen. David Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command, as his replacement.

U.S. forces overtake a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and kill al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden on May 2 local time.

President Hamid Karzai calls for American forces to leave Afghan villages and pull back to their bases after a U.S. soldier kills 16 Afghan civilians inside their homes.

The Afghan army takes over all military and security operations from NATO forces.

Ashraf Ghani becomes president of Afghanistan in September after two rounds of voting, claims of election fraud and a power-sharing agreement with main rival Abdullah Abdullah.

In December, NATO officially ends its combat mission in Afghanistan. U.S.-led NATO troops remain to train and advise Afghan forces.

For more coverage of Afghanistan and other international news, visit our World page.

Left: Pigeons fly as a policeman guards residents praying outside the Shah-e Doh Shamshira mosque during the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid-al-Fitr in Kabul on Aug. 30, 2011. Photo by Erik de Castro/Reuters

Economic woes

1929 - The Great Depression following the Wall Street Crash hits Australia hard. Recovery is uneven, and the Labor government is defeated in the election in 1931.

1939 - Australia follows Britain's lead and declares war on Nazi Germany.

1941 - The US declares war on Japan. Australia turns to the US for help in its defence after the Japanese take Singapore. Australia allows the US to base its supreme command for the Pacific war on its territory.

1948 - Australia begins a scheme for immigration from Europe. Over the next 30 years, more than two million people arrive, about one-third of them from Britain, and hundreds of thousands from Italy, Greece and Germany.

1950 - Australia commits troops to the UN forces in the Korean war.

1956 - Olympic Games held in Melbourne.

1965 - Australia commits troops to the US war effort in Vietnam.

1967 - National referendum on changes to constitution is passed. Section which excluded Aboriginal people from official census is removed. Another change enables federal government to pass laws on Aboriginal issues.

1975 - Australia introduces new immigration laws, restricting the number of unskilled workers allowed into the country.

The government of Gough Whitlam is plagued by resignations and the blocking of its budget by the upper house of the parliament. In an unprecedented move, the governor-general, Sir John Kerr, dismisses the government. A caretaker administration under Malcolm Fraser is installed, and goes on to win the general election.

1983 March - Bob Hawke becomes prime minister after his Labor Party secures a landslide victory.

1986 - The Australia Act makes Australian law fully independent of the British parliament and legal system. Turning to Asia

1991 December - Paul Keating becomes Labor prime minister.

1993 - The Native Title Act establishes a process for the granting of Aboriginal land rights.

1996 - John Howard of the Liberal Party wins elections to become prime minister.

1999 - Australia leads intervention force in East Timor to counter pro-Indonesia militia violence after territory's independence vote.

1999 November - Referendum on making Australia a republic defeated, with 55% voting to retain the status quo.

2001 August - Australia turns away hundreds of boat people over several months, the most prominent group having been rescued from a sinking ferry. Australia pays Nauru to detain many of them.

10 Major Events in the World History

Narrowing down to a mere ten major events in world history, from the beginning of time, is difficult. But we have managed to provide the most significant events that have had a great impact in world history.

The events mentioned below are in the order of their occurrence, and not according to their degree of importance.

Deposition of Romulus Augustulus (476)

Abdication of the last Roman Emperor Romulus Augustulus began the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. It was one of the largest, most powerful, and vast empires, comprising most of present day Europe, North African plains, and the Nile river valley. The empire was at its peak in the first two centuries. However, it began its gradual decline after the crisis of the 3rd century (also known as Military Anarchy). The actual cause of the fall of the Roman Empire is not known. However, a series of events, like internal crisis and unrest, external invasions, etc., lead to the downfall. The last Western Roman Emperor abdicated, and with it, ended the western Roman Empire.

Effect on the world:
The medieval period (or Middle Ages or Dark Age) began in Europe, that were to last for a thousand years. The Dark Age led to a complete deterioration of the Roman culture. The progressed and developed culture (law, architecture, literature, government, etc.) of the Roman Empire was lost forever.

Christopher Columbus Reached the Americas (1492)

Christopher Columbus’ expedition is believed to mark the beginning of European colonization. Colonialism and imperialismrefers to the era where major European powers like Great Britain, France, Rome, Spain, Greece, Portugal, the Netherlands, etc., occupied parts of the continents of Asia, America, and Africa, thus establishing their colonies everywhere. Initially, the colonies were formed for trade purposes. However, gradually, the rulers gained absolute control over the colonies and exploited them.

Effect on the World :
There is no doubt that colonialism had a major effect on the entire world. The rulers exploited the natural resources of the colonies, thus, manipulating them to their advantage. In most of the cases, the natives were treated ruthlessly or forced out, eventually losing their identity. Many wars broke out in the colonies between the European powers for acquisition of territories or between the natives and the rulers. It is debatable whether the rulers brought radical changes in the administration, society, language, and education in the colonies, or imposed their ideas and culture forcefully.

Martin Luther Published His 95 Theses (1517)

The writings and publication of the 95 Theses led to the Protestant Reformation. It was originally a movement that was aimed to challenge and reform the practices of the Roman Catholic Church. However, it became a major European movement, and affected the politics of Europe. Although the movement was not to form a new religion, ultimately, a new rival Protestant Church was formed.

Effect on the world :
The reformers migrated to the New World, and Protestant Churches were formed all over the world. The Roman Catholic Church lost its power, the Pope no longer held the ultimate power, and absolute monarchy prevailed in Europe. The reformation of the Anglican Church, the Thirty Years’ War (1618 – 1648), development of a modern scientific approach, decentralization of power, etc., are the major effects of this movement.

Boston Tea Party (1773)

Although not the initial catalyst, the Boston Tea Party was the climax movement in the protest of the native Americans against the British rule. It triggered off the American Revolutionary War . This was one of the first major wars in history to overthrow a tyrannical rule of the monarchy. The Thirteen Colonies revolted against the British rule (Kingdom of Great Britain) for complete independence. The French sided with the colonies, and therefore, it turned into a major war between the powerful nations in Europe. The Congress declared independence and a new nation of the United States of America was formed in July 1776.

Effect on the World:
The outcome of the war shocked the world, as the thirteen colonies defeated one of the greatest empires in the world. Great Britain lost one of its most important colony, and all the participating nations suffered economic losses. The American Revolution influenced the French Revolution to a great extent.

The Tennis Court Oath (1789)

The Tennis Court Oath was a major event in the French Revolution, as it signified the revolt of the people against monarchy. What was initially an internal revolution, became a major event in the world history, and indirectly inspired many other countries in the world. The French Revolution was an upheaval of the people against absolute monarchy, aristocracy, and feudalism. The monarch King Louis XVI was overthrown and executed, while the old concepts of aristocracy and hierarchy were uprooted. The Tennis Court Oath, the storming of the Bastille, the execution of Louis XVI, and the Reign of Terror, are the significant events of the revolution.

Effect on the world:
There was an end to feudalism, and France became a republic. Napoleon Bonaparte rose to power and became one of the most powerful rulers of Europe. The revolution was a source of inspiration to other countries and colonies under imperial rule, as it promoted nationalism. The Napoleonic Code (a source of inspiration for many countries in the world) is arguably an effect or impact of the revolution.

Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria (1914)

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria resulted in a chain of events that led to World War I. In already looming tension in the Balkans, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia after the assassination of the Archduke. Before being succeeded by World War II, this was known as the Great War, because it was the first major battle among various nations in the world. Initially the Allies (United Kingdom, France, and Russia) fought against the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy). Later on, other nations like Japan, the United States (Allies), and the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria (Central Powers) joined the war.

Effect on the world:
The use of modern lethal weapons like tanks, chemical weapons, etc., was first seen during the First World War, which resulted in the deaths of a large number of people (approximately 9 million). Empires in some countries like Russia, Austria-Hungary collapsed, and nearly all the participating nations suffered severe losses. The League of Nations was formed. Indirectly, the First World War gave rise to the Russian Revolution and the Second World War.

Bolshevik (October) Revolution (1917)

Similar to the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution took place in Russia to overthrow the autocracy of the monarch (or Tsar). In a single year (1917), there were two revolutions: one in February, that overthrew the Tsar and formed the provisional government, and one in October, that replaced the provisional government with the Communist (Bolshevik) government. The October Revolution (also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution or Bolshevik Revolution) was specifically a prominent one, as it had a major impact on Russia and the entire world for many decades later. Russia became an entirely Marxist state, with Lenin as its leader.

Effect on the world:
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR or the Soviet Union) was formed, which emerged as a superpower after World War II. Communism was spread in many parts of the world, and the world was divided into communists and capitalists. The world witnessed an arms race, global tensions, and the Cold War, during this communist era.

Invasion of Poland by Germany (1939)

The expansion policies of Adolf Hitler (Chancellor of Germany) led to the invasion of Poland in 1945. Immediately, the United Kingdom and France declared war on Germany, leading to a major war in Europe. World War II was the deadliest war in human history, with over 75 million deaths all over the world. The belligerent nations were Allies (France, Poland, United Kingdom, Soviet Union, USA, and the British Commonwealth) against the Axis (Germany, Italy, and Japan). Nearly 30 nations participated in the Second World War, which had a devastating effect on the entire world. When talking about the Second World War, two other events are the most significant and noteworthy in our history.

* 30 January 1933 – Hitler became the Chancellor of Germany. It was an event which would have several consequences, including the Holocaust and World War II

* 6th and 9th August, 1945 – Atom bombs are dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The event contributed to ending the World War II, caused deaths of 200,000 people, made America the superpower, but most importantly, changed the world as it fueled a global nuclear arms race that continues to this day.

Effect on the world:
The immediate effect of the war was that the USA and the Soviet Union emerged as major superpowers in the world, and remained so for many decades later. Germany was divided into East and West Germany, and was occupied by the Soviets and Allies respectively. Secondly, many empires in Europe dissolved, and the borders of many European nations were redefined. Another significant effect was that many British and French colonies gained independence, and the United Nations was formed. The Cold War and the arms race were the indirect effects of the war, that were to define world politics for many years to come.

Fall of the Berlin Wall (German Reunification) (1989 – 1990)

The Berlin Wall, built by the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) in 1961, was a symbol of the division between Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc, the division between communism and capitalism, and the tyrannical rule of the Eastern Bloc. The wall completely cut West Berlin from entire Eastern Germany. After the Second World War, Germany was occupied by the Allies and the Soviet army. However, the failing relations of the Soviet Union with the other Allies ultimately resulted in the division of Germany, and building of the Wall (also a symbol of the ‘Iron Curtain’)

Effect on the World:
The immediate effect of the fall of the wall was, of course, the unification of Germany. East Germans could now enjoy freedom of movement and look forward to development. The conflict between communism (Soviet Union) and capitalism (USA) had reached such a point, that the world was almost on the brink of another major war. The fall of the Berlin Wall and Reunification of Germany marked the end of the Cold War, and the ultimate fall of the Soviet Union.

September 11 Attacks (September 11, 2001)

The September 11 attacks were a series of terrorist airline hijackings and attacks launched on the United States of America. Four planes were hijacked by terrorists, with an intention of suicide attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. Two planes crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, one into The Pentagon, while one, intended at United States Capitol, crashed into a field. It was one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in the history of the United States. Along with enormous destruction of property, around 3,000 people died in these attacks.

Effect on the World:
The effect triggered off the Global War on Terrorism. Anti-terrorism laws were introduced in many parts of the world. The Stock Exchange in the USA remained closed for 6 days, leading to financial loses. Hate crimes against Muslims all over the world were observed in a counter-action against the September attacks. The USA invaded Afghanistan (2001) to depose the Taliban. It also triggered the Iraq war in 2003. The Allies of the US joined in the military operations. A large amount of money was and still is being spent in these operations.

Apart from those mentioned above, many other events like rise of prominent religions and sects (notably Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, etc.), freedom movements (like the Indian independence movement, the American Civil War, abolition of slavery, etc.), formation of new nations (like Israel, Pakistan, etc.), some inventions and discoveries, or the rise of dictators and other important leaders, also altered the course of history.

*The list of important historical events does not end here. Those mentioned above are the top 10 world events as considered by the author. In case you have any ideas or views, you can express them in the comments section below.

The 100 Most Important Events in Human History

For those who don’t have time to wade through the entire Timeline of Human History, I have created a list of the 100 most important events in human history by collecting and combining several lists of 10, 25, 50 or 100 “most important events” or “events that changed the world” from the Internet and combining them into one meta-list, which is presented below in chronological order. As with many such lists, the results are unlikely to win universal approval. For example, I find the list biased toward Western (in particular American) civilization and overly focused on war, religion and dead white men. There is also a bit of “comparing apples to oranges” because some of the important events happened in an instant and others occurred over many years or decades. Despite these caveats, I think it is safe to say that all the events listed here are important to understanding human history.

1. The Agricultural Revolution: Humans Domesticate Plants and Animals: c. 11,000-4,000 BCE
— c. 20,000 BCE: Earliest evidence of humans exerting some control over wild grain (Israel)
— c. 11,000 BCE: Planned cultivation and trait selection of rye (Syria) evidence of domestication of lentils, vetch, pistachios and almonds (Greece)
— c. 9,500 BCE: By this time, eight key crops (emmer wheat, einkorn wheat, barley, peas, lentils, bitter vetch, chickpeas and flax) have been domesticated in the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Cyprus, Turkey)
— c. 9,100 BCE: Oldest known agricultural settlement, at Klimonas (Cyprus)
— c. 9,000 BCE: Domestication of sheep in several locations in central and southwest Asia
— c. 8,000 BCE: Farming is fully established along the Nile River by this time (Egypt) rice and millet are domesticated in China domestication of goats (Iran) domestication of pigs (Near East China Germany) domestication of maize and squash (Mexico)
— c. 7,000 BCE: Agriculture is well-established in Mesopotamia (Iraq) first evidence of agriculture in the Indus Valley (Pakistan, India) domestication of cattle in North Africa, India and Mesopotamia
— c. 6,000 BCE: First evidence of agriculture on the Iberian Peninsula (Spain, Portugal) domestication of chickens (India Southeast Asia) domestication of llamas (Peru)
— c. 5,500 BCE: Oldest known field systems, including stone walls (Ireland)
— c. 5,500 BCE: Farmers in Sumeria have developed large-scale intensive cultivation of land, mono-cropping, organized irrigation and a specialized agricultural labor force (Iraq)
— c. 5,000 BCE: Domestication of rice and sorghum in Africa’s Sahel region (Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Algeria, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Ethiopia)
— c. 4,000 BCE: Domestication of the horse (Ukraine Kazakhstan)
— c. 3,000 BCE: Earliest known use of the ox-drawn ard plow (Egypt)

2. T he First Cities Emerge in Mesopotamia: c. 4000-3000 BCE (Iraq)
— c. 5400 BCE: According to legend, the Sumerians create their first settlement in Mesopotamia at Eridu
— c. 4500 BCE: The Sumerian settlement of Uruk becomes the first city in Mesopotamia
— c. 2900 BCE: Uruk is the largest city in the world
— c. 2075 BCE: The Sumerian city of Lagash is the largest city in the world
— c. 2030 BCE: The Sumerian city of Ur is the largest city in the world

3. The First Wheeled Vehicles Appear in Mesopotamia, Eastern Europe and the Caucasus: c. 3500 BCE (Iraq, Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Romania)

The remains of the oldest existing wheel and axle, dating to 3000 BCE, were found in the Lubjlana marshes in Slovenia.

4. The First Writing Systems Appear in Mesopotamia (Cuneiform), Egypt (Hieroglyphics) and the Indus Valley (Indus Script): c. 3200 BCE

5. The Ancient Egyptians Build the Great Pyramid of Giza for Pharaoh Khufu: c. 2560 BCE (Egypt)

The Great Pyramid at Giza, Egypt was built as the tomb of Fourth Dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu.

6. The Origin and Development of Modern Alphabets: c. 1850-800 BCE (Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Greece)
— c. 1850 BCE (or 1550 BCE): First evidence of the Proto-Sinaitic/Proto-Canaanite script, which gives rise to the Phoenician alphabet
— c. 1050 BCE: Development of the all-consonant Phoenician alphabet, which gives rise to the Semitic, Hebraic and Arabic scripts
— c. 800 BCE: The Greeks adapt the Phoenician alphabet by converting some of the letters to vowels the Greek alphabet gives rise to the Roman and Cryllic alphabets

The Phoenician alphabet and the alphabets derived from it.

7. Babylonian King Hammurabi Issues the Code of Hammurabi, One of the Earliest Legal Codes: c. 1754 BCE (Iraq)

The Code of Hammurabi is engraved on an eight-foot tall diorite stele, with a portrait of the king receiving the laws from Shamash, the sun god. It is now in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

8. As Knowledge of Iron Metallurgy Spreads, the Bronze Age Ends and the Iron Age Begins: c. 1200-500 BCE
— c. 3000-2700 BCE: First evidence of smelting iron ore to make wrought iron (Iraq, Syria)
— c. 1800-1200 BCE: Evidence of smelting iron ore to make wrought iron in India
— c. 1500-1200 BCE: The Hittites are working iron in bellows-aided furnaces (“bloomeries”) (Turkey)
— c. 1200 BCE: The Iron Age begins in the Ancient Near East (Iraq, Turkey, Iran, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine) and India
— c. 800 BCE: The Iron Age begins in Central and Western Europe
— c. 500 BCE: The Iron Age begins in Northern Europe and China

9. The Rise of Ancient Greek Civilization: c. 800-336 BCE (Greece)
— c. 800 BCE: The Greek Dark Ages end and the Archaic Period begins the first Greek city-states emerge
— 776 BCE: Traditional date of first Olympic Games athletic competitions
— c. 595-575 BCE: Solon institutes wide-ranging constitutional reforms in Athens
— 490 BCE: The Greeks stop the first Persian invasion at the Battle of Marathon
— 480-479 BCE: Greek city-states (led by Athens and Sparta) repel the second Persian invasion at Salamis and Plataea Classical Period begins
— 461-429 BCE: Pericles leads Athens during a golden age of arts and culture
—– 458 BCE: The Oresteia, a trilogy of tragic plays by Aeschylus, is performed in Athens
—— 440 BCE: Herodotus writes The Histories, an account of the Greco-Persian wars
—— 432 BCE: Completion of the Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens
—— 429 BCE: Oedipus Rex, a tragic play by Sophocles, is performed in Athens
— 404 BCE: Sparta defeats Athens, ending the Peloponnesian War
— 400 BCE: First articulation of the Hippocratic Oath for physicians
— 386 BCE: Plato opens the Academy in Athens
— 336 BCE: Aristotle opens the Lyceum in Athens

10. The Rise and Fall of Ancient Roman Civilization: c. 753 BCE – 476 CE (Italy)
— 753 BCE: Legendary date of founding of Rome
— 509 BCE: Legendary date of founding of the Roman Republic
— 202 BCE: Rome under Scipio Africanus defeats Carthage under Hannibal at the Battle of Zama to end the Second Punic War (Tunisia)
— 146 BCE: Roman armies destroy the city of Carthage at the end of the Third Punic War (Tunisia)
— 49 BCE: Julius Caesar and his army cross the Rubicon, starting Roman Civil War
— 44 BCE: Julius Caesar is assassinated in the Senate by Brutus, Cassius and others
— 31 BCE: Octavian defeats Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium, ending the Roman civil wars (Greece)
— 27 BCE: The Senate makes Octavian (later called Augustus) Imperator, effectively ceding power to him and marking the beginning of the Roman Empire
— 27 BCE-180 CE: Pax Romana, a period of relative peace in the Roman Empire
— 9 CE: In the Battle of Teutoberg Forest, Germanic forces led by Arminius ambush and destroy three Roman legions led by Publius Quinctilius Varus (Germany)
— 312 CE: Constantine defeats rival Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge to become co-emperor
— 313 CE: Co-emperors Constantine and Licinius issue the Edict of Milan, which makes Christianity legal in the Roman Empire
— 390 CE: Theodosius the Great issues the Edict of Thessalonica, which makes Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire
— 395 CE: Death of Theodosius from this point, the Roman Empire is permanently divided between Eastern and Western portions
— 410 CE: Sack of Rome by the Visigoths under Alaric
— 476 CE: Flavius Odoacer leads a revolt that deposes Emperor Romulus Augustulus, marking the end of the Western Roman Empire

A map of the Roman Empire at its greatest extent, under Emperor Trajan.

11. The Life of the Buddha and Birth of Buddhism: c. 563-400 BCE (India)

12. The Life of Confucius and Birth of Confucianism: 551-479 BCE (China)

13. Alexander the Great Creates an Immense Empire: 336-323 BCE (Greece)
— 338 BCE: The Macedonians, led by King Philip II and his son Alexander, take Athens in the Battle of Chaeronea, giving Macedon power over all the Greek city-states
— 336 BCE: Upon the death of Philip II, Alexander becomes king of Macedon (Greece)
— 333 BCE: Alexander wins the Battle of Issus over Darius III of Persia (Turkey)
— 332 BCE: Alexander conquers Syria and Egypt
— 331 BCE: Alexander becomes ruler of the Persian Empire after defeating the Persians at the Battle of Gaugamela (Iraqi Kurdistan)
— 327 BCE: Alexander invades the Indian subcontinent (Pakistan)
— 323 BCE: Alexander dies at Babylon (Iraq)

Alexander the Great’s Empire at its peak.

14. Unification of China under Emperor Qin Shi Huang, Who Begins Building The Great Wall: 221-206 BCE

45. The Birth of the Modern Calendar: 45 BCE (Italy)
— 45 BCE: Reforms made to the Roman calendar under Julius Caesar create the Julian Calendar, with 365 days in a year divided into 12 months and a leap year every four years (Italy)
— 1582: Due to inaccuracies resulting from the Julian Calendar, Pope Gregory XIII issues the Gregorian Calendar, which reduces the number of leap years (Italy)

16. The Life of Jesus and the Birth of Christianity: c. 4 BCE-70 CE (Israel)
— c. 4 BCE: Birth of Jesus
— c. 29 CE: Crucifixion of Jesus
— c. 50 CE: Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians is the earliest known Christian text

17. The Life of Muhammad and the Birth of Islam: 570-630 CE (Saudi Arabia)
— 570 CE: Muhammad is born in Mecca
— 622 CE: Muhammad leads the Hejira from Mecca to Medina
— 632 CE: The Qu’ran is completed Muhammad dies

18. The Franks, Led by Charles Martel, Defeat a Umayyad Caliphate Army under Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi at the Battle of Tours-Poitiers, Halting the Muslim Advance into Western Europe: 732 CE (France)

19. Pope Leo III Crowns Charlemagne, Carolingian King of the Franks and the Lombards, as the First Holy Roman Emperor: 800 CE (France, Germany)

Charlemagne’s Holy Roman Empire.

20. The Invention of Gunpowder and its Use in Weaponry: c. 800-1300 (China)
— c. 800: Chinese alchemists seeking an elixir of life produce gunpowder instead
— c. 904: First reference to the use of fire arrows (gunpowder-fueled projectiles) in warfare
— c. 1000: By this time, fire arrows, fire lances and rocket arrows are commonly used by Chinese armies
— c. 1110: First reference to a fireworks display using gunpowder-fueled rockets
— c. 1130: Bombs and cannons fueled by gunpowder have appeared in China by this time
— c. 1240: Knowledge of gunpowder spreads to the Middle East
— c. 1258: First evidence of gunpowder use in India
— c. 1300: By this time, gunpowder use has spread throughout Europe

21. Norse Explorers Discover and Colonize New Lands in the North Atlantic: c. 870-1000 CE (Iceland, Greenland, US)
— c. 870: Norse explorers discover and colonize Iceland
— c. 986: Erik the Red and settlers from Iceland and Norway establish a colony on the west coast of Greenland
— c. 1000: Leif Erikson establishes a short-lived settlement at Vinland in North America (Canada)
— c. 1510: By this time, the Norse settlements in Greenland have been abandoned

22. Norman Conquest of England:
1066 CE (UK)
— 9/28/1066: William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, crosses the English Channel and lands at Pevensey
— 10/14/1066: William defeats Anglo-Saxon King Harold II, who is killed at the Battle of Hastings
— 12/25/1066: After taking London, William is crowned King of England at Westminster Abbey

23. The First University Is Established, at Bologna: 1088 CE (Italy)

24. The First Crusade: 1095-1099 (France, Turkey, Syria, Palestine, Israel)
— 1095 CE: Pope Urban II calls on Christians to drive the Muslims out of the Holy Land by force (France)
— 1096 CE: The untrained mobs of the People’s Crusade march toward Jerusalem, massacring Jews across Europe, but are slaughtered by the Turks before they reach their goal
— 1097 CE: The armies of the Princes’ Crusade gather outside Constantinople and march to the Levant (Turkey)
— 1098 CE: Crusader states are established at Edessa and Antioch (Syria, Turkey)
— 1099 CE: After a siege, the Crusaders enter Jerusalem, kill many of its Muslim and Jewish inhabitants, and establish the Kingdom of Jerusalem (Israel/Palestine)

25. King Suryavarman II of the Khmer Empire Builds Angkor Wat Originally Dedicated to the Hindu God Vishnu, It Became a Buddhist Temple by the End of the 12th Century: c. 1150 CE (Cambodia)

A view of the Angkor Wat temple complex.

26. Shogun Minamato no Yorimoto Overthrows the Taira Emperor, Establishing the Kamakura Shogunate Start of 675 Years of Shogunate Rule in Japan: 1192 CE

27. Genghis Khan Establishes a Vast Mongol Empire, Which Is Expanded After His Death: 1206-1260 (Central Asia, China)
— 1206: Mongolian leader Temujin defeats his rivals and receives the title Genghis Khan, Universal Ruler of the Mongols (Mongolia)
— 1215: Genghis Khan captures the capital of the Jin Dynasty (China)
— 1221: The Mongols defeat the Khwarezmid Empire and take over Persia (Iran, Afghanistan)
— 1227: Death of Genghis Khan in battle against the Western Xia Dynasty (China)
— 1241: The Mongols defeat an army of Poles and Moravians at the Battle of Liegnitz (Poland)
— 1258: The Mongols capture and destroy Baghdad, capital of the Islamic Abbasid Caliphate (Iraq)
— 1260: The victory of the Islamic Mamluks over the Mongols at the Battle of Ain Jalut signals the waning of the Mongol Empire (Israel/Palestine)

The Mongol Empire during the life of Genghis Khan.

28. English Nobles Force King John to Sign the Magna Charta Restricting His Powers: 1215 (UK)

29. Europe Hears Tales of the Far East From Marco Polo: 1271-1300 (Italy Asia)
— 1271-1295: Venetian merchant Marco Polo travels through Asia with his father and uncle, probably going as far as China
— c. 1299: While in prison, Marco Polo relates stories of his travels to cellmate Rustichello da Pisa (Italy)
— c. 1300: Rustichello da Pisa publishes his version of Marco Polo’s stories as Book of the Marvels of the World

30. The Rise and Fall of the Aztec Civilization: 1325-1521 (Mexico)
— 1325: The nomadic Mexica people found the city of Tenochtitlan on an island in Lake Texacoco (traditional date)
— 1428: A Triple Alliance is formed between Tenochtitlan, Texcoco and Tlacopan
— 1487: For the dedication of the Templo Mayor, Aztec Emperor Ahuitzotl sacrifices 20,000 prisoners of war to the Aztec war god Huitzilopochtli
— 1519: Tenochtitlan has an estimated population of 200,000-300,000, making it one of the largest cities in the world, when Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés arrives in November and meets with Aztec ruler Montezuma
— 1521: With the aid of local enemies of the Aztecs (including the Texcoco), the Spanish conquer Tenochtitlan and the Aztec Empire

A map of the Aztec Empire just before the Spanish invasion.

31. The Black Death (Bubonic Plague) Devastates Europe, Killing One-Third of the Population: 1347-1348 (Europe)

32. The Renaissance: A Rediscovery of Classical Knowledge Brings About Innovations and Achievements in Arts and Culture: c. 1350-1600 (Italy, Europe)
— c. 1350: The Renaissance begins in Florence (Italy)
— c. 1410-1420: Florentine artist and architect Filippo Brunelleschi sets out the rules of linear perspective
— 1435: Leon Battista Alberti publishes Della Pittura, a treatise on painting
— c. 1436: Brunelleschi completes the dome of the Florence Cathedral
— 1452: Sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti completes the East Doors of the Florence Baptistery, known as the Gates of Paradise
— c. 1486: Sandro Botticelli paints The Birth of Venus
— 1501: Michelangelo completes his sculpture of David
— c. 1504: Leonardo da Vinci paints the Mona Lisa
— 1508-1512: Michelangelo paints the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome
— 1513: Niccolò Machiavelli writes The Prince, a treatise on politics

A portion of the frescoes painted by Michelangelo on the Sistine Chapel ceiling, with the Creation of Man in the center.

33. The Inca People Create an Empire: 1438-1533 (Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Colombia)
— 1438: Formation of the Incan Empire
— 1476: The Incas defeat the Chimu civilization (Peru)
— 1532: Spanish Conquistador Francisco Pizarro and 150 men set up a meeting with Incan ruler Atahualpa at Cajamarca, but instead take him captive and slaughter his 4,000 unarmed attendants

The growth of the Incan Empire.

34. Johannes Gutenberg Invents a Printing Press Using Movable Metal Type and Oil-Based Ink, Bringing Inexpensive Printing of Books and Papers to the West: 1440-1455 (Germany)
— 1040: Bi Sheng invents movable type printing, but the technology does not travel to the West (China)
— 1377: Jikji, the earliest known printed book made with metal movable type, is printed in Korea
— c. 1455: The Gutenberg Bible is Gutenberg’s first mass-produced book

35. The Ottoman Turks Take Constantinople, Marking the Fall of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire: 1453 (Turkey)

36. Christopher Columbus Arrives in the West Indies and Claims the Land for Spain European Conquest of the Americas Begins: 1492 (The Bahamas)

A map of the four voyages Columbus made to the Americas between 1492 and 1504.

37. Portuguese Explorer Vasco da Gama Finds a Sea Route from Europe to India, Allowing Portugal To Create a Trading Empire: 1498

38. Spanish and English Explorers Returning to Europe Bring Back New World Foods, Including Tomatoes, Potatoes, Corn (Maize), Squash and Cacao: 1500-1600

39. The Slave Trade: Enslaved African People Are Brought to the Americas: 1502-1619 (US, Haiti, Dominican Republic)
— 1502: Spaniard Juan de Córdoba sends one of his African slaves from Spain to Hispaniola (Haiti, Dominican Republic)
— 1510: King Ferdinand of Spain authorizes a shipment of 50 African slaves to be sent to Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic)
— 1619: A Dutch ship brings 20 African slaves to the British colony in Jamestown, Virginia (US)

40. Martin Luther Sends his 95 Theses to the Archbishop of Mainz, Marking the Start of the Protestant Reformation: 1517 (Germany)

41. Suleiman the Magnificent Rules Ottoman Empire During Period of Great Expansion: 1520-1566 (Turkey)

42. Ferdinand Magellan’s Expedition Is the First to Circumnavigates the Globe, Although Magellan Is Killed in the Philippines and Does Not Complete the Voyage: 1522

43. Polish Scientist Nicolaus Copernicus’s On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres Shows that the Movement of Heavenly Bodies Is Best Explained By a Heliocentric Model (That Is, the Earth Revolves Around the Sun, and Not the Other Way Around): 1543

44. England under Queen Elizabeth I Repels a Spanish Invasion by Defeating the Spanish Armada: 1588 (UK)

45. William Shakespeare Writes Hamlet: 1599-1601 (UK)

46. English Colonists Establish Their First Permanent Settlement in the New World at Jamestown, Virginia: 1607 (US)

47. Galileo Galilei Publishes The Starry Messenger, Which Announces a Series of Astronomical Discoveries Made Using a Home-Made Telescope: 1609-1610 (Italy)

48. England Undergoes A Civil War: 1642-1660
— 1642: After years of conflict, relations between King Charles I and Parliament break down and civil war begins
— 1645: The Parliamentary army wins a decisive victory over Charles at the Battle of Naseby
— 1646: Charles surrenders to the Scots, who turn him over to the English
— 1649: Charles is tried and convicted of treason, then beheaded
— 1653: Oliver Cromwell declares himself Lord Protector of England
— 1658: Oliver Cromwell dies his son Richard becomes Lord Protector
— 1660: Charles II, son of Charles I, returns to England from France and restores the monarchy

49. Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan Builds the Taj Mahal, a Mausoleum for his Favorite Wife, Mumtaz Mahal: 1632-1653 (India)

50. The Power of Steam is Harnessed in the Steam Engine: 1663-1801 (UK)
— 1663: Edward Somerset invents the first steam pump
— 1698: Thomas Savery designs an improved steam pump to pump water from mines
— 1705-1733: Thomas Newcomen invents the atmospheric engine, a more powerful steam pump, and teams up with Savery to build and distribute the machines
— 1765: James Watt invents a steam engine with a separate condenser that is five times more efficient than earlier versions
— 1776: Watt teams up with Matthew Boulton to build their first commercial steam engine
— 1799: Richard Trevithick builds a high-pressure steam engine
— 1801: Oliver Evans builds the first high-pressure steam engine in the US

51. The Holy Roman Empire, the Hapsburg Monarchy and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Join Forces to Defeat the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Vienna, Halting Ottoman Expansion into Western Europe: 1683 (Austria)

52. Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica Explains Universal Laws of Motion and Gravitation That Provide a Foundation for the Science of Physics Until Einstein: 1687 (UK)

53. Innovations in the British Textile Industry Spark the Industrial Revolution: 1733-1785
— 1733: John Kay patents the flying shuttle
— 1764: James Hargreaves invents the spinning Jenny
— 1767: Richard Awkwright invents the water frame
— 1775-1779: Samuel Crompton invents the spinning mule
— 1785: Edward Cartwright invents the power loom
— 1793: Eli Whitney invents the cotton gin (US)

54. The Boston Tea Party: American Colonists Protest New British Taxes by Throwing Tea in Boston Harbor: 12/16/1773 (US)

55. The American Revolution: 1775-1783 (US)
— 4/19/1775: The Battles of Lexington and Concord
— 7/4/1776: America Issues its Declaration of Independence from Great Britain
— 1777: British General John Burgoyne, surrounded and unreinforced, surrenders his entire army to the Americans at the Battle of Saratoga
— 1778: France signs a treaty of alliance with the US
— 1781: British General Cornwallis surrenders to George Washington, effectively ending the American Revolutionary War
— 1783: The Treaty of Paris officially ends the war between the US and Great Britain

56. The French Revolution: 1789-1799 (France)
— 6/20/1789: The Tennis Court Oath: Members of the Third Estate (the National Assembly) vow to stay together until they produce a new constitution for France
— 7/14/1789: Parisian revolutionaries storm the Bastille prison, a symbol of the monarchy’s abuse of power
— 8/26/1789: Declaration of the Rights of Man
— 1792: Wars between Revolutionary France and European powers begin
— 1/21/1793: King Louis XVI is beheaded
— 4/6/1793: The Committee of Public Safety takes control, exercises dictatorial powers
— 1795: The Directory is inaugurated

57. The Medical Revolution: 1796-1885 (UK US France)
— 1796: Edward Jenner uses live cowpox virus to create the first vaccine, for smallpox (UK)
— 1842: Crawford Long uses ether as an anesthetic in surgery for the first time in Georgia. but does not publish his results until 1849 (US)
— 1846: William Morton uses ether as an anesthetic in surgery in Massachusetts and receives credit for the discovery (US)
— 1860-1864: Louis Pasteur’s experiments prove the germ theory of disease (France)
— 1882: Robert Koch shows that a specific bacillus causes a specific disease (Germany)
— 1885: Pasteur is the first to use weakened virus to make a vaccine, for rabies (France)

58. The Birth of Rail Transport: 1802-1830 (UK)
— 1804: Richard Trevithick’s early steam locomotive pulls a train with 10 tons of iron and 70 passengers nine miles Merthyr Tydfil, to Abercynon in Wales
— 1812: Matthew Murray builds the Salamanca, the first commercially-successful steam locomotive, and runs it on the Middleton Railway in Leeds
— 1813: Christopher Blackett and William Hedley build Puffing Billy, a steam locomotive, and run it on the Wylam Colliery Railway
— 1814: George Stephenson improves on earlier designs with the Blücher
— 1825: The Stockton & Darlington Railway, the first public steam railway, opens Stephenson drives his locomotive the Locomotion nine miles in two hours hauling an 80-ton load
— 1829: Stephenson’s new locomotive, the Rocket, wins the Rainhill Trials, a steam railway competition in Lancashire
— 1830: Opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, the first railway to rely exclusively on steam-powered trains

An 1862 photo of the early steam locomotive Puffing Billy.

59. Enslaved People in the French colony of Saint-Domingue, Having Fought a Successful Revolution, Establish the New Nation of Haiti: 1804

60. The Napoleonic Wars: 1799-1815 (France, Europe)
— 1799: Having successfully won many battles, General Napoleon Bonaparte is named First Consul of France and assumes sweeping powers
— 1804: Napoleon becomes Emperor of the new French Empire
— 1805: The French fleet loses to the British and Spanish, led by Admiral Horatio Nelson in the Battle of Trafalgar (Spain)
— 1812: During the French invasion of Russia, Napoleon wins the Battle of Borodino and takes Moscow, but must eventually retreat after huge losses resulting both from Russian troops and the Russian winter (Russia)
— 1813: Napoleon’s forces suffer a major defeat at the Battle of Leipzig against a coalition of Russian, Prussian, Austrian and Swedish armies (Germany)
— 1814: Napoleon abdicates and is exiled to the Mediterranean island of Elba (Italy)
— 1815: Napoleon escapes from Elba and raises an army, but is defeated by British and Prussian Armies Led by the Duke of Wellington and Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher at the Battle of Waterloo (Belgium)
— 1815: Napoleon is exiled to the southern Atlantic island of St. Helena, off the coast of Africa

61. The End of the African Slave Trade and Abolition of Slavery: 1807-1888 (UK, US, Mexico, Brazil)
— 1807: The United Kingdom abolishes the slave trade
— 1808: The United States bans the importation of slaves
— 1824: Mexico abolishes slavery
— 1833: Slavery is abolished in the British Empire
— 1836: The Republic of Texas declares independence from Mexico and reinstates slavery
— 1865: The Thirteenth Amendment to the American Constitution abolishes slavery (US)
— 1888: Brazil abolishes slavery

The official medallion of the British Anti-Slavery Society.

62. Spain’s Colonies in Central and South America Fight for and Win Independence
: 1817-1825
— 1817: José de San Martín defeats Chilean royalists at the Battle of Chacabuco, and enters Santiago, Chile
— 1819: The forces of Simón Bolívar defeat the Spanish at the Battle of Boyacá, which leads to the independence of New Granada (Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela)
— 1819: The Congress of Angostura creates Gran Colombia and Simón Bolívar is elected its president (Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, Guyana, Brazil)
— 1821: Bolívar’s win at the Battle of Carabobo guarantees the independence of Venezuela
— 1824: The Battle of Ayacucho ends the Spanish presence in Peru

63. The Invention of the Telegraph Revolutionizes Communication: 1832-1840
— 1832: Pavel Schilling creates an electromagnetic telegraph (Estonia)
— 1833: Carl Friedrich Gauss and Wilhelm Weber build the first electromagnetic telegraph used for regular communication (Germany)
— 1836: David Alter invents the first American electric telegraph
— 1837: William Cooke and Charles Wheatstone (UK), Edward Davy (US) and Samuel Morse (US) all independently develop commercial electrical telegraphs, but Morse’s system, with his Morse code, quickly spreads through the US
— 1840: American Alfred Vail improves Morse code

64. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Publish The Communist Manifesto, Which Explains History in Terms of Class Struggle and Proposes That Workers Unite and Overthrow Capitalism
: 1848 (UK)

65. Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species, which Proves that Natural Selection is the Mechanism of Biological Evolution: 1859 (UK)

A first edition copy of Darwin’s Origin of Species.

66. The American Civil War
: 1860-1865
— 1860: Election of Republican Abraham Lincoln as U.S. President leads southern states to secede
— February 1861: Seven southern states form the Confederate States of America
— 4/12/1861: Confederate soldiers fire on the Union garrison at Ft. Sumter in Charleston Bay (South Carolina)
— 1861: Following the commencement of hostilities, four more states join the Confederacy
— 1/1/1863: The Emancipation Proclamation frees slaves in rebel areas
— 7/1-3/1863: The Union victory at the Battle of Gettysburg is the turning point of the war in favor of the Union (Pennsylvania)
— 4/9/1865: Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrenders the Army of Virginia to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House (Virginia)
— 4/15/1865: Assassination of Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth (Washington, D.C.)
— 4/26/1865: Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston surrenders the Army of Tennessee to Union General General William T. Sherman (North Carolina)

67. The Meiji Restoration: Tokugawa Yoshinobu Abdicates to Emperor Meiji, Ending Shogun Rule in Japan: 1867 CE

68: Opening of the Suez Canal Linking the Mediterranean and the Red Sea: 1869 (Egypt)

69. Alexander Graham Bell Patents the Telephone: 1876 (US)

70. European Powers Colonize Africa: 1880s (Europe, Africa)
— 1830: France invades and colonizes Algeria
— 1884-1885: At the Berlin Conference, European leaders divide up Africa
1885: King Leopold of Belgium establishes the Congo Free State as a private corporate colony (Democratic Republic of Congo)
1895: France establishes French West Africa, a consolidation of eight French colonial territories (Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, French Guinea, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Benin, Niger)
1908: Belgium annexes the Congo Free State
1910: France establishes French Equatorial Africa from its central African colonies (Chad, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Republic of the Congo, Gabon)
1912: Italy forms the colony of Italian Libya from colonies taken from the Ottoman Empire

A map showing the colonization of Africa by European powers.

71. The Suffrage Movement: Women Fight For the Right to Vote
: 1893-1928
1848: The Declaration of Sentiments, written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and signed at the Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, NY, calls for giving women the right to vote (US)
1872: Susan B. Anthony is arrested when she votes in the presidential election (US)
1893: The self-governing colony of New Zealand grants suffrage to women Colorado becomes first US state to grant full voting rights to women
1903: Australia is the first sovereign nation to grant women the right to vote
1906: The Grand Duchy of Finland, part of the Russian Empire, becomes the first country to give women both the right to vote and to run for office
1920: 19th Amendment to the US Constitution grants women the right to vote
1922: Women obtain full voting rights in Ireland
1928: Women in the UK obtain full voting rights
1946: The nations of Cameroon, Kenya, Romania and Venezuela grant women the right to vote
2005: The Kuwaiti Parliament grants women the right to vote and run in elections
2015: Saudi Arabia grants women the right to vote and run for office

72. The Invention of Radio: 1879-1901
— 1872: James Clerk Maxwell establishes the mathematical basis for propagating electromagnetic waves through space (Scotland)
— 1879: David E. Hughes may be the first to intentionally send a radio signal through space using his spark-gap transmitter (Wales/US)
— 1880: Alexander Graham Bell and Charles Sumner (US) invent the photophone, a wireless telephone that transmits sound on a beam of light
— 1885: Thomas Edison (US) invents a method of electric wireless communication between ships at sea
— 1886: Heinrich Hertz (Germany) conclusively demonstrates the transmission of electromagnetic waves through space to a receiver
— 1890: Édouard Branly (France) improves the receiver device
— 1893: Nikola Tesla (Serbia/US) develops a wireless lighting device
— 1894: Sir Oliver Lodge (UK) improves Branly’s receiver and demonstrates a radio transmission Jagadish Chandra Bose (India) demonstrate transmission of radio waves over distance
— 1895: After reading Lodge’s and Tesla’s papers, Guglielmo Marconi (Italy) builds a series of radio devices, including one that can transmit radio waves 1.5 miles Alexander Popov (Russia) demonstrates a radio transmission
— 1896: Marconi moves to England and shows his device to Sir William Preece at the British Telegraph Service
— 1897: Marconi patents his device and starts his own wireless business, which establishes radio stations at various locations
— 1898: Tesla demonstrates a remote controlled boat
— 1899: Marconi sends radio waves across the English Channel Bose develops an improved transmitter and receiver Ferdinand Braun invents the closed circuit system and increases the distance that signals can carry
— 1900: Roberto Landell de Moura (Brazil) invents a radio that can transmit a human voice a distance of eight kilometers
— 1901: Marconi claims to send the first transatlantic radio message
— 1906: Reginald Fessenden makes the the first AM radio broadcast from Ocean Bluff-Brant Rock, Massachusetts (US)

73. The Discovery of X-Rays: 1895
1875: Researchers first noticed a new type of ray emanating from experimental discharge tubes called Crookes tubes
1886: Ivan Pulyui (Ukraine/Germany) discovered that sealed photographic plates darkened when exposed to Crookes tubes
1887: Nikola Tesla (Serbia/US) begins experimenting with the new rays
1891: Fernando Sanford (US) generates and detects the new rays
1895: Wilhelm Röntgen (Germany) begin studying x-rays and announces their existence (giving them the name ‘x-rays’) in a scientific paper Röntgen identifies medical use of x-rays
1896: Thomas Edison (US) invents the flouroscope for x-ray examinations John Hall-Edwards (UK) is the first physician to use x-rays under clinical conditions
1913: William D. Coolidge (US) invents the Coolidge tube to generate x-rays, replacing the cold cathode tubes used previously

One of the first x-ray photographs was made by Wilhelm Röntgen of his wife Bertha’s hand, showing her wedding ring.

74. Orville & Wilbur Wright Fly the First Heavier-than-Air Powered Aircraft:
12/17/1903 (US)

The Wright Brothers’ first powered flight, December, 1903.

75. After Defeating Russia in the Russo-Japanese War, Japan Is Recognized as a World Power
: 1904-1905

76. Albert Einstein’s Annus Mirabilis: 1905 (Switzerland)
— 6/9/1905: Paper explaining the photoelectric effect by means of quanta
— 7/18/1905: Paper explaining Brownian motion provides evidence of atoms
— 9/26/1905: Einstein publishes the special theory of relativity
— 11/21/1905: Einstein shows the equivalence of energy and matter (E = mc 2 )

A photograph of Albert Einstein in about 1905, when he was working in the Swiss Patent Office.

77. World War I:
1914-1918 (Europe, Asia, Africa)
— 6/28/1914: Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo triggers war
— 5/7/1915: A German U-boat sinks the Lusitania
— 1916: Battle of Verdun Battle of the Somme
— June 1917: The US enters the war
— December 1917: Russia leaves the war makes major concessions in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
— 11/9/1918: German Kaiser Wilhelm abdicates
— 11/11/1918: An armistice ends the fighting
— 1919: The Treaty of Versailles redraws the map of Europe and imposes harsh terms on Germany

78. The Russian Revolution
: 1917-1922
— February and March 1917: The February Revolution: Massive uprisings lead to the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II a provisional government is established under Prince Georgy Lvov
— September 1917: The Directorate rules Russia under Alexander Kerensky
— October 1917: The October Revolution: Lenin and the Bolsheviks overthrow Kerensky’s government and establish the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, the first socialist state
— 1918-1922: Russian Civil War between Communists (Reds) and their opponents (Whites)
— 1922: 15 republics are united in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)

Lenin speaks to a crowd in 1917.

79. A Global Influenza Epidemic Kills 20 Million People:

80. The Invention of Television: 1925-1929
— 1925: Early television transmissions by John Logie Baird (Scotland), Charles Francis Jenkins (US), Bell Labs (US), Kenjiro Takayanagi (Japan) and Leon Theremin (USSR)
— 1926: Advances in TV transmission demonstrated by Baird and Kálmán Tihanyi (Hungary)
— 1927: Philo T. Farnsworth (US) patents first complete electronic television system Herbert Ives and Frank Gray at Bell Labs (US) demonstrate a better quality images than prior systems
— 1928: Jenkins receives the first television station license
— 1929: Zworykin demonstrates both transmission and reception of images in an electronic system Farnsworth transmits live human images

81. Global Depression Follows Crash of US Stock Market: 1929-1940 (US Europe Asia)
— October 1929: US stock market crashes
— 1930-1931: Widespread bank failures in US and Europe
— November 1932: US elects Franklin Delano Roosevelt as president
— 1933-1934: FDR proposes and Congress passes New Deal legislation

82. The Rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis: 1920-1939 (Germany)
— 1920: Hitler forms the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazis)
— 11/8/1923: Hitler and the Nazis attempt to overthrow the government of Bavaria in the failed Beer Hall Putsch
— 1925: After being released from prison, Hitler publishes Mein Kampf
— 1928-1932: Nazi Party candidates win increasingly larger portion of the popular vote, but never a majority
— 1/30/1933: Hitler is appointed Chancellor of Germany
— 1933-1934: Hitler consolidates power becomes dictator
— 1935: Nuremberg Laws strip Jews of German citizenship
— 1936: German troops reoccupy the Rhineland Germany forms Axis alliances with Italy and Japan
— 3/14/1938: The Anschluss: Germany invades and occupies Austria
— 9/30/1938: In the Munich Agreement, Western European democracies allow Hitler to occupy the Sudetenland
— 11/9/1938: Kristallnacht: Jewish shops and synagogues are destroyed
— 3/15/1939: Hitler invades and occupies Czechoslovakia

Adolf Hitler and Hermann Goering wave to a torchlight parade in honor of Hitler’s appointment as chancellor.

83. Revolution in China: 1911-1949
— 1911: The Xinhai Revolution overthrows the Qing dynasty
— 1912: The Republic of China is established
— 1927: Civil war breaks out between the Communists and the Nationalists
— 1934-1935: The Long March
— 1937-1945: During the Sino-Japanese War, Communists and Nationalists join forces to fight their common enemy, Japan
— 1945: Civil war resumes
— 1949: After defeating the Kuomintang, Chinese Communists under Mao Tse Tung proclaim the People’s Republic of China Chiang Kai-Shek retreats to Taiwan

84. World War II: 1939-1945 (US, Europe, Asia, Africa)
— 9/1/1939: Germany invades Poland, triggering WW II
— 12/7/1941: Japanese surprise attack on US fleet at Pearl Harbor US enters war
— 1/20/1942: The Final Solution: At the Wannsee Conference, Nazis make plans to exterminate the Jews (Germany)
— 1942-1943: Defeat of German armies by the USSR in the Battle of Stalingrad marks a turning point in the war (Russia)
— 6/6/1944: Allied Armies Invade Nazi-Occupied France at Normandy on D-Day (France)
— 5/8/1945: Nazi Germany surrenders unconditionally to the Allies
— 8/6, 9/1945: US drops atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, leading to Japanese surrender

85. The United Nations Is Formed: 1945-1946 (Europe, N. & S. America, Asia, Africa, Australia)
— 10/24/1945: UN Charter takes effect, with 51 member nations
— 1/10/1946: First meeting of General Assembly (UK)

The first meeting of the UN General Assembly took place in London, UK on January 10, 1946.

86. The Digital Revolution: The Invention of the Digital Electric Computer
— 1833: Charles Babbage designs the Difference Machine but does not build it (UK)
— 1939: John V. Atanasoff and Clifford E. Berry create the Atanasoff-Berry Computer (US)
— 1940: George Stibitz and his team demonstrate the Complex Number Calculator
— 1941: Konrad Zuse creates the Z3 computer (Germany)
— 1943: Max Newman, Tommy Flowers and others build the Mk I Colossus (UK)
— 1944: The Mk II Colossus the Harvard Mark I begins operation (US)
— 1945: Konrad Zuse develops the Z4 John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert create ENIAC (US)
— 1958: Invention of the integrated circuit (microchip) (US)
— 1965: Olivetti introduces the Programma 101, the first commercially produced personal desktop computer (Italy)

87. After Long Struggle, India Obtains Its Independence from the UK: 1947

88. The Cold War:
1945-1989 (US, Russia, Europe)
— 3/5/1946: Winston Churchill Gives “Iron Curtain” Speech (US)
— 1948-1949: US and UK overcome Berlin Blockade by USSR through the Berlin Airlift
— 1961: Building of the Berlin Wall between East and West Berlin (Germany)

89. The Discovery of the Double Helical Structure of DNA: 1953 (UK)

90. U.S. Civil Rights Movement: 1954-1968 (US)
— 5/17/1954: The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Brown v. Board of Education that segregated education is unconstitutional
— 12/1/1955: Rosa Parks refuses to sit in the back of the bus, sparking Montgomery bus boycott
— 1957: President Eisenhower sends US troops to protect black students attending Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas
— 1960: First lunch counter protest in Greensboro, North Carolina
— 8/28/1963: Martin Luther King, Jr. leads march on Washington, makes “I Have a Dream” speech
— 9/15/1963: Four black girls killed in bombing of church in Birmingham, Alabama
— 7/2/1964: President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act
— 2/21/1965: Assassination of Malcolm X
— 3/7/1965: Protest march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama
— 8/6/1965: President Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act
— 4/4/1968: Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers his “I Have a Dream” speech at the 1963 March on Washington.

91. The Vietnam War: 1955-1975 (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos)
— 1954: After the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu ends French rule in Indochina, Vietnam is divided into North and South Vietnam
— 1955: North Vietnam begins guerrilla attacks on South Vietnam
— 1960: North Vietnam backs formation of the Viet Cong, which begins civil war in South Vietnam
— 1961: US President Kennedy sends military personnel and equipment to aid South Vietnam against the Viet Cong
— 1963: The US backs a violent coup in South Vietnam that results in the death of President Ngo Dinh Diem
— 1964: Congress authorizes the US to intervene in the war through the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution
— 1965: First US combat troops land at Da Nang
— 1967: By this time, 500,000 American troops are stationed in Vietnam anti-war protests erupt throughout US
— 1968: The Tet Offensive, a combined assault by Viet Cong and North Vietnamese troops, is a turning point in the war later in the year, US soldiers commit the Mai Lai massacre
— 1969: Death of North Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh
— 1970: US bombing of Cambodia revealed, sparking wave of protests and Kent State shootings
— 1971: The New York Times publishes the leaked Pentagon Papers
— 1973: The Paris Peace Accords end US involvement in the war
— 1975: Saigon falls, South Vietnam surrenders and Vietnam is unified as a single nation

92. Soviet Union Launches Sputnik, First Man-Made Satellite: 10/4/1957 (Russia)

93. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration Approves the First Contraceptive Pill: 5/9/1960 (US)

94. Yuri Gagarin Becomes the First Man in Space: 1961 (Russia)

95. U.S. President John F. Kennedy Is Assassinated in Dallas, Texas: 11/22/1963 (US)

96. Apollo 11 Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin Land on the Moon and Walk on its Surface: 7/20-21/1969 (US, Moon)

Buzz Aldrin on the Moon is a 1969 photograph by Neil Armstrong.

97. The Birth of the Internet: 1965-1995 (US)
— 1965: Lawrence G. Roberts and Thomas Merrill create the first wide-area computer network
— 1967: Roberts publishes a plan for the ARPANET
— 1968: Frank Heart’s team at Bolt Beranek and Newman builds packet switches called Interface Message Processors (IMPs)
— September 1969: BBN installs the first IMP at UCLA, creating the first node Doug Engelbart’s Stanford Research Institute (SRI) provided the second node
— October 1969: The first message is sent between UCLA and SRI
— December 1969: Four computers are linked in the ARPANET
— 1970: S. Crocker and his Network Working Group finish the ARPANET’s initial host-to-host protocol, the Network Control Protocol (NCP)
— 1971: The Merit Network and Tymnet networks become operational
— 1973: The first trans-Atlantic transmission occurs, to University College of London
— 1974: The International Telecommunication Union develops X.25 packet switching network standards
— 1977: Dennis Hayes and Dale Heatherington invent the PC modem
— 1978: The first online bulletin board
— 1979: Usenet and CompuServe are launched
— 1981: The National Science Foundation (NSF) creates CSNET and links it to ARPANET
— 1983: ARPANET computers switch from the NCP protocol to the TCP/IP protocol
— 1985: The first dot-com domain name is registered
— 1986: NSF creates NSFNET, which is linked with ARPANET
— 1988: Internet Relay Chat is introduced
— 1989: America Online (AOL) is launched
— 1990: ARPANET is decommissioned in favor of NSFNET
— 1995: NSFNET is decommissioned and replaced by networks operated by several commercial Internet service providers

98. The Cold War Ends: 1989-1991 (Europe, Russia)
— 11/9/1989: Opening of gates between East and West Berlin demolition of Berlin Wall begins (Germany)
— 1989-1990: Fall of Communist governments in Eastern Europe
— 1990: Reunification of Germany
— 12/26/1991: Soviet Union is dissolved


There are numerous ancient historic Asian designations for Southeast Asia, none are geographically consistent with each other. Names referring to Southeast Asia include Suvarnabhumi or Sovannah Phoum (Golden Land) and Suvarnadvipa (Golden Islands) in Indian tradition, the Lands below the Winds [16] in Arabia and Persia, Nanyang (South Seas) to the Chinese and Nanyo in Japan. [17] A 2nd-century world map created by Ptolemy of Alexandria names the Malay Peninsula as Avrea Chersonesvs, (Golden Peninsula). [18]

The term "Southeast Asia" was first used in 1839 by American pastor Howard Malcolm in his book Travels in South-Eastern Asia. Malcolm only included the Mainland section and excluded the Maritime section in his definition of Southeast Asia. [19] The term was officially used to designate the area of operation (the South East Asia Command, SEAC) for Anglo-American forces in the Pacific Theater of World War II from 1941 to 1945. [20]

Paleolithic Edit

Anatomically modern human hunter-gatherer migration into Southeast Asia before 50,000 years ago has been confirmed by the combined fossil record of the region. [21] These immigrants might have, to a certain extent, merged and reproduced with members of the archaic population of Homo erectus, as the fossil discoveries in the Tam Pa Ling Cave suggest. [22] Data analysis of stone tool assemblages and fossil discoveries from Indonesia, Southern China, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and more recently Cambodia [23] and Malaysia [24] has established Homo erectus migration routes and episodes of presence as early as 120,000 years ago and even older isolated finds date back to 1.8 million years ago. [25] [26] Java Man (Homo erectus erectus) and Homo floresiensis attest for a sustained regional presence and isolation, long enough for notable diversification of the species' specifics.

Ocean drops of up to 120 m (393.70 ft) below the present level during Pleistocene glacial periods revealed the vast lowlands known as Sundaland, enabling hunter-gatherer populations to freely access insular Southeast Asia via extensive terrestrial corridors. Modern human presence in the Niah cave on East Malaysia dates back to 40,000 years BP, although archaeological documentation of the early settlement period suggests only brief occupation phases. [27] However, author Charles Higham argues that, despite glacial periods modern humans were able to cross the sea barrier beyond Java and Timor, who around 45,000 years ago left traces in the Ivane Valley in eastern New Guinea "at an altitude of 2,000 m (6,561.68 ft) exploiting yams and pandanus, hunting and making stone tools between 43,000 and 49,000 years ago." [28]

The oldest habitation discovered in the Philippines is located at the Tabon Caves and dates back to approximately 50,000 years BP. Items there found such as burial jars, earthenware, jade ornaments and other jewellery, stone tools, animal bones and human fossils date back to 47,000 years BP. Unearthed human remains are approximately 24,000 years old. [29]

Signs of an early tradition are discernible in the Hoabinhian, the name given to an industry and cultural continuity of stone tools and flaked cobble artefacts that appears around 10,000 BP in caves and rock shelters first described in Hòa Bình, Vietnam, later also documented in Terengganu, Malaysia, Sumatra, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Yunnan, southern China. Research emphasises considerable variations in quality and nature of the artefacts, influenced by region-specific environmental conditions and proximity and access to local resources. Remarkable is nonetheless that the Hoabinhian culture accounts for the first verified ritual burials in Southeast Asia. [30] [31]

The descendants of these earliest Homo sapiens immigrants, loosely identified as "Australo-Melanesians", include the Negritos, Papuans, Indigenous Australians and Hill Tribes (most of them have Austronesian admixture in modern times). They are associated with the occupation of caves, rock shelters and isolated upland regions in Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines or on remote islands, such as the Andaman Islands and although displaced from the coasts and plains they are present in all regions for at least 30,000 years. [32]

Neolithic Migrations Edit

The Neolithic was characterized by several migrations into Mainland and Island Southeast Asia from southern China by Austronesian, Austroasiatic, Kra-Dai and Hmong-Mien-speakers. [34]

The most widespread migration event, was the Austronesian expansion, which began at around 5,500 BP (3500 BC) from Taiwan and coastal southern China. Due to their early invention of ocean-going outrigger boats and voyaging catamarans, Austronesians rapidly colonized Island Southeast Asia, before spreading further into Micronesia, Melanesia, Polynesia, Madagascar and the Comoros. They dominated the lowlands and coasts of Island Southeast Asia, intermarrying with the indigenous Negrito and Papuan peoples to varying degrees, giving rise to modern Islander Southeast Asians, Micronesians, Polynesians, Melanesians and Malagasy. [36] [37] [38] [39]

The Austroasiatic migration wave centred around the Mon and the Khmer, who originate in North-Eastern India arrive around 5000 BP and are identified with the settlement on the broad riverine floodplains of Burma, Indochina and Malaysia. [40]

Early agricultural societies Edit

Territorial principalities in both Insular and Mainland Southeast Asia, characterised as Agrarian kingdoms [42] had by around 500 BCE developed an economy based on surplus crop cultivation and moderate coastal trade of domestic natural products. Several states of the Malayan-Indonesian "thalassian" zone [43] shared these characteristics with Indochinese polities like the Pyu city-states in the Irrawaddy river valley, Van Lang in the Red River delta and Funan around the lower Mekong. [4] Văn Lang, founded in the 7th century BCE endured until 258 BCE under the rule of the Hồng Bàng dynasty, as part of the Đông Sơn culture eventually sustained a dense and organised population, that produced an elaborate Bronze Age industry. [44] [45]

Intensive wet-rice cultivation in an ideal climate enabled the farming communities to produce a regular crop surplus, that was used by the ruling elite to raise, command and pay work forces for public construction and maintenance projects such as canals and fortifications. [44] [43]

Though millet and rice cultivation was introduced around 2000 BCE, hunting and gathering remained an important aspect of food provision, in particular in forested and mountainous inland areas. Many tribal communities of the aboriginal Australo-Melanesian settlers continued the lifestyle of mixed sustenance until the modern era. [46]

Two layer hypothesis Edit

Between around 1,700 and 1,000 BC people settled in the Southeast Asian lowlands as wet-rice and millet farming techniques from the Yangtze River valley were adopted, suggesting to some researchers that migration to this area occurred over two "layers" or periods: an original migration of early indigenous Austro-Melanesian followed by a second migration from East Asia and Southern China during the Neolithic. Proponents of this theory include author and archaeologist Charles Higham, who posits that "the indigenous hunter-gatherers integrated with intrusive Neolithic communities and, while losing their cultural identity, contributed their genes to the present population of Southeast Asia," or alternatively, the "hunter-gatherers withdrew to rainforest refugia and, through selective pressures inherent in such an environment, survived as the small-bodied, dark-skinned humans found to this day in the Philippines, Peninsular Malaysia, Thailand and the Andaman Islands." [28] The veracity of the two layer hypothesis is a subject of controversy, however, with some researchers suggesting that neither the Austro-Melanesian nor the Southern China migration occurred [47] and others still suggesting that only the migration from Southern China did [48] .

Bronze Age Southeast Asia Edit

Earliest known copper and bronze production in Southeast Asia has been found at the site of Ban Chiang in North-east Thailand and among the Phung Nguyen culture of northern Vietnam around 2000 BCE. [49]

The Dong Son culture established a tradition of bronze production and the manufacture of ever more refined bronze and iron objects, such as plows, axes and sickles with shaft holes, socketed arrow and spearheads and small ornamented items. [50] By about 500 BCE large and delicately decorated bronze drums of remarkable quality, that weighed more than 70 kg (150 lb) were produced in the laborious lost-wax casting process. This industry of highly sophisticated metal processing has been developed locally bare of Chinese or Indian influence. Historians relate these achievements to the presence of well organised, centralised and hierarchical communities and a large population. [51]

Pottery Culture Edit

Between 1,000 BCE and 100 CE the Sa Huỳnh culture flourished along the south-central coast of Vietnam. [52] Ceramic jar burial sites, that included grave goods have been discovered at various sites along the entire territory. Among large, thin-walled, terracotta jars, ornamented and colourised cooking pots, glass items, jade earrings and metal objects had been deposited near the rivers and at the coast. [53]

The Buni culture is the name given to another early independent centre of refined pottery production that has been well documented on the basis of excavated burial gifts, deposited between 400 BCE and 100 CE in coastal north-western Java. [54] The objects and artefacts of the Buni tradition are known for their originality and remarkable quality of incised and geometric decors. [55] Its resemblance to the Sa Huỳnh culture and the fact that it represents the earliest Indian Rouletted Ware recorded in Southeast Asia are subject of ongoing research. [56]

Austronesian maritime trade network Edit

The first true maritime trade network in the Indian Ocean was the Austronesian maritime trade network by the Austronesian peoples of Island Southeast Asia, [57] who built the first ocean-going ships. [58] They established trade routes with Southern India and Sri Lanka as early as 1500 BC, ushering an exchange of material culture (like catamarans, outrigger boats, sewn-plank boats and paan) and cultigens (like coconuts, sandalwood, bananas and sugarcane) as well as connecting the material cultures of India and China. They constituted the majority of the Indian Ocean component of the spice trade network. Indonesians, in particular were trading in spices (mainly cinnamon and cassia) with East Africa using catamaran and outrigger boats and sailing with the help of the Westerlies in the Indian Ocean. This trade network expanded to reach as far as Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, resulting in the Austronesian colonization of Madagascar by the first half of the first millennium AD. It continued up to historic times, later becoming the Maritime Silk Road. [57] [59] [60] [61] [62] This trade network also included smaller trade routes within Island Southeast Asia, including the lingling-o jade network and the trepanging network.

In eastern Austronesia, various traditional maritime trade networks also existed. Among them was the ancient Lapita trade network of Island Melanesia [63] the Hiri trade cycle, Sepik Coast exchange and the Kula ring of Papua New Guinea [63] the ancient trading voyages in Micronesia between the Mariana Islands and the Caroline Islands (and possibly also New Guinea and the Philippines) [64] and the vast inter-island trade networks of Polynesia. [65]

Indianised kingdoms Edit

Since around 500 B.C. Asia's expanding land and maritime trade had led to socio-economic interaction and cultural stimulation and diffusion of mainly Hindu beliefs into the regional cosmology of Southeast Asia. [66] Iron Age trade expansion caused regional geostrategic remodelling. Southeast Asia was now situated in the central area of convergence of the Indian and the East Asian maritime trade routes, the basis for economic and cultural growth. The concept of the Indianised kingdoms, a term coined by George Coedès, describes Southeast Asian principalities that since the early common era as a result of prolonged interaction had incorporated central aspects of Indian institutions, religion, statecraft, administration, culture, epigraphy, writing and architecture. [67] [68]

The earliest Hindu kingdoms emerged in Sumatra and Java, followed by mainland polities such as Funan and Champa. Selective adoption of Indian civilisation elements and individual suitable adaption stimulated the emergence of centralised states and development of highly organised societies. Ambitious local leaders realised the benefits of Hindu worship. Rule in accord with universal moral principles represented in the concept of the devaraja was more appealing than the Chinese concept of intermediaries. [69] [70] [71]

The exact nature, process and extent of Indian influence upon the civilisations of the region is still fiercely debated by contemporary scholars. Debated are most claims over whether it was Indian merchants, Brahmins, nobles or Southeast Asian mariner-merchants who played a central role in bringing Indian conceptions to Southeast Asia. Debated is the depth of the influence of traditions for the people. Whereas early 20th-century scholars emphasised the thorough Indianisation of Southeast Asia, more recent authors argued that this influence was very limited and affected only a small section of the elite. [72] [73]

Sea trade from China to India passed Champa, Funan at the Mekong Delta, proceeded along the coast to the Isthmus of Kra, portaged across the narrow and transhipped for distribution in India. This trading link boosted the development of Funan, its successor Chenla and the Malayan states of Langkasuka on the eastern and Kedah on the western coast.

Numerous coastal communities in maritime Southeast Asia adopted Hindu and Buddhist cultural and religious elements from India and developed complex polities ruled by native dynasties. Early Hindu kingdoms in Indonesia are 4th century Kutai that rose in East Kalimantan, Tarumanagara in West Java and Kalingga in Central Java. [74]

Early relations with China Edit

Earliest attested trading contacts existed between Southeast Asia and the Chinese Shang dynasty (around 1600 BCE to around 1046 BCE), when cowry shells served as currency. Various natural products, such as ivory, rhinoceros horn, tortoise shells, pearls and birds’ feathers found their way to Luoyang the capital of the Zhou dynasty, that lasted from 1050 to 771 BCE. Although knowledge about port localities and shipping lanes is very limited, it is assumed that most of this exchange took place on land routes and only a small percentage was shipped "on coastal vessels crewed by Malay and Yue traders". [75]

Military conquests during the Han dynasty brought a number of foreign peoples within the Chinese empire when the Imperial Chinese tributary system began to evolve under Han rule. This tributary system was based on the Chinese worldview, that had developed under the Shang dynasty, in which China is deemed the center and apogee of culture and civilization, the Middle kingdom (Zhōngguó), surrounded by several layers of increasingly barbarous peoples. [76] Contact with Southeast Asia steadily increased by the end of the Han period. [75]

Between the 2nd-century BCE and 15th-century CE, the Maritime Silk Road flourished, connecting China, Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Arabian peninsula, Somalia and all the way to Egypt and finally Europe. [77] Despite its association with China in recent centuries, the Maritime Silk Road was primarily established and operated by Austronesian sailors in Southeast Asia, and by Persian and Arab traders in the Arabian Sea. [78]

The Maritime Silk Road developed from the earlier Austronesian spice trade networks of Islander Southeast Asians with Sri Lanka and Southern India (established 1000 to 600 BCE), as well as the jade industry trade in lingling-o artifacts from the Philippines in the South China Sea (c. 500 BCE). [79] [60] For most of its history, Austronesian thalassocracies controlled the flow of the Maritime Silk Road, especially the polities around the Strait of Malacca and Bangka, the Malay peninsula and the Mekong delta although Chinese records misidentified these kingdoms as being "Indian" due to the Indianization of these regions. Prior to the 10th century, the route was primarily used by Southeast Asian traders, although Tamil and Persian traders also sailed them. [78] The route was influential in the early spread of Hinduism and Buddhism to the east. [80]

China later built its own fleets starting from the Song dynasty in the 10th century, participating directly in the trade route up until the end of the Colonial Era and the collapse of the Qing dynasty. [78]

Spread of Buddhism Edit

Local rulers have most benefited from the introduction of Hinduism during the early common era as it greatly enhanced the legitimacy of their reign. Historians increasingly argue, that the process of Hindu religious diffusion must be attributed to the initiative of the local chieftains. Buddhist teachings, that almost simultaneously arrived in Southeast Asia developed during the subsequent centuries an exalted distinction and eventually came to be perceived as more appealing to the demands of the general population, a belief system and philosophy that addresses concrete human affairs. Emperor Ashoka initiated the tradition to send trained monks and missionaries abroad who spread Buddhism, that includes a sizeable body of literature, oral traditions, iconography, art and offers guidance as it seeks to solve central existential questions with emphasis on individual effort and conduct. [81] [82] [83]

Between the 5th and the 13th century Buddhism flourished in Southeast Asia. By the 8th century the Buddhist Srivijaya kingdom emerged as a major trading power in central Maritime Southeast Asia and around the same period the Shailendra dynasty of Java extensively promoted Buddhist art that found its strongest expression in the vast Borobudur monument. [84] After the establishment of a new royal dynasty of provincial origin in the Khmer Empire the first Buddhist kings emerged during the 11th century. [85] Mahayana Buddhist ideas from India where the original Theravada Buddhism had already been replaced centuries ago took hold first in Southeast Asia. However, a pure form of Theravada Buddhist teachings had been preserved in Sri Lanka since the 3rd century. Pilgrims and wandering monks from Sri Lanka introduced Theravada Buddhism in the Pagan Empire of Burma, the Siamese Sukhothai Kingdom in Laos, the Lower Mekong Basin during Cambodia's dark ages and further into Vietnam and Insular Southeast Asia. [86]

In the mid-16th century, the First Toungoo Empire was the largest and strongest empire as well as one of the richest empires in Southeast Asia. [87] [88] The empire was the dominant power in mainland Southeast Asia and succeeded in creating a gigantic empire that included Mon and Shan states and annexed territories in the Kingdom of Lanna, Kingdom of Laos, and the Ayutthaya kingdom. [89] [90] Early European accounts describe the lower part of the Toungoo Empire as having possessed 3-4 excellent ports that facilitated considerable trade in a variety of goods. [91] The empire supplied the port of Malacca with rice and other foodstuffs, along with luxury goods such as rubies, sapphires, musk, lac, benzoin, and gold to trade. In return, the lower part of the empire imported Chinese manufactures and Indonesian spices. Additionally, merchants from West Asia and India exchanged large quantities of Indian textiles for Burmese luxury products and for eastern goods. The arrival of the Portuguese in the 16th century further strengthened the empire’s position both commercially and militarily. [92]

Meanwhile, the Srivijaya kingdom on Sumatra island had developed into the dominant power of Maritime Southeast Asia by the 5th century CE. Its capital Palembang became a major seaport and functioned as an entrepot on the Spice Route between India and China. Srivijaya was also a notable center of Vajrayana Buddhist learning and influence. [93] Around the 6th century CE Malay merchants began sailing to Srivijaya, where goods were transported directly on Sumatran ports. The winds of the Northeast Monsoon during October to December prevented sailing ships from proceeding directly from the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea, as did the Southwest Monsoon during July to September, forcing the trade route to pass through Srivijaya. However, the kingdom's wealth and influence began to fade when advancements in nautical technology in the 10th century enabled Chinese and Indian merchants to ship cargo directly between their countries and aided the Chola state in southern India in carrying out a series of destructive attacks on Srivijaya, effectively ending Palembang's entrepot position in the Indo-Chinese trade route. As the influence of the Srivijaya kingdom faded by about the 13th century, Sumatra came to be ruled by a kaleidoscope of Buddhist kingdoms for the next two centuries, including the Malayu, Pannai, and Dharmasraya kingdoms.

To the southeast of Sumatra, West Java was ruled by the Sunda Kingdom after the fall of the Tarumanagara, while Central and Eastern Java were dominated by a myriad of competing agrarian kingdoms including the Shailendra dynasty, Medang Kingdom, Kediri Kingdom, Singhasari, and Majapahit. In the 8th and 9th centuries, the Sailendra dynasty that ruled the Mataram kingdom built numbers of massive monuments in Central Java, including Sewu and Borobudur Buddhist temples.

In the Philippines, the Laguna Copperplate Inscription dating from 900 CE relates a granted debt from a Maginoo caste nobleman named Namwaran who lived in the historic Tondo which is now part of Manila area. This document mentions a leader of Medang in Java.

The Khmer Empire covered much of mainland Southeast Asia from the early 9th until the 15th century, during which time a sophisticated architecture was developed, exemplified in the structures of the capital city Angkor. Situated in modern-day Vietnam, the kingdoms of Đại Việt and Champa were rivals to the Khmer Empire in the region. The kingdom of Dvaravati was another major regional presence, first appearing in records around the 6th century CE. By the 10th century, however, Dvaravati had come under the influence of the Khmer. Nearby, Thai tribes conquered the Chao Phraya River valley of modern-day central Thailand around the 12th century and established the Sukhothai Kingdom in the 13th century and the Ayutthaya Kingdom in the 14th century. [94] [95]

According to the Nagarakṛtāgama, an Old Javanese document from around the 13th century, vassal states of the Majapahit Empire spread throughout much of today's Indonesia, making it the largest empire ever to exist in Southeast Asia. The empire declined in the 15th century after the rise of Islamic states in coastal Java, the Malay peninsula, and Sumatra.

Spread of Islam Edit

By the 8th century CE, less than 200 years after the establishment of Islam in Arabia, the first Islamic traders and merchants who adhered to Mohammad's prophecies began to appear in maritime Southeast Asia. However, Islam did not play a notable role anywhere in mainland Southeast China until the 13th century. [96] [97] [98] As it happened, widespread and gradual replacement of Hinduism by Theravada Buddhism reflected a shift to a more personal, introverted spirituality acquired through individual ritual activities and effort.

In addressing the issue of how Islam was introduced into Southeast Asia, historians have elaborated various routes from Arabia to India and then from India to Southeast Asia. Of these, two seem to take prominance: either Arabian traders and scholars who did not live or settle in India spread Islam directly to maritime Southeast Asia, or Arab traders that had been settling in coastal India and Sri Lanka for generations did. Muslim traders from India (Gujarat) and converts of South Asian descent are variously considered to play a major role. [99] [100]

A number of sources propose the South China Sea as another route of Islamic introduction to Southeast Asia. Arguments for this hypothesis include the following:

  • Extensive trade between Arabia and China before the 10th century is well documented and has been corroborated by archaeological evidence (see: Belitung shipwreck). [101][102]
  • During the Mongol conquest and the subsequent rule of the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368), hundreds of thousands of Muslims entered China. In Yunnan, Islam was propagated and commonly embraced. [103]
  • The Kufic grave stones in Champa are indices of an early and permanent Islamic community in mainland Southeast Asia. [104][105][106] The founder of the Demak Sultanate was of Sino-Javanese origin. [107][108] mariner Zheng He proposed ancient Chinese architecture as the stylistic basis for the oldest Javanese mosques during his 15th-century visit to Demak, Banten, and the Red Mosque of Panjunan in Cirebon. [96]

In a 2013, the European Union published the European Commission Forum, which maintains an inclusive attitude on the matter: "Islam spread in Southeast Asia via Muslims of diverse ethnic and cultural origins, from Middle Easterners, Arabs and Persians, to Indians and even Chinese, all of whom followed the great commercial routes of the epoch." [109]

Research has several answers as to what caused the distinct syncretic (its modern expression is cultural Islam, as opposed to Middle Eastern and North African political Islam) Islam in Southeast Asia, that allowed the continuation and inclusion of elements and ritual practices of Hinduism, Buddhism and ancient Pan-East Asian Animism. Most principalities had developed highly distinctive cultures as a result of centuries of active participation in the cultural interchange and by borrowing from the flow of ideas that criss-crossed the archipelago, coming from across the Indian Ocean in the west and the South China Sea in the east. Cultural and institutional adoption was a creative and selective process, in which foreign elements were incorporated into a local synthesis. [110]

Unlike some other "Islamised" regions like North Africa, Iberia, the Middle East and later northern India, Islamic faith in Southeast Asia was not enforced in the wake of victorious territorial conquests, but followed trade routes as with the Islamisation of Turkic Central Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, southern India and northwest China.

The idea of equality (before God) for the Ummah (the people of God) and a personal religious effort through regular prayer in Islam could have been more appealing than a perceived fatalism in Hinduism at the time [111] . However, Islam also taught obedience and submission, which could have helped guarantee that the social structure of a converted people or political entity saw less fundamental changes. [75]

There are various records of lay Muslim missionaries, scholars, and mystics, particularly Sufis, who were active in peacefully proselytizing in Southeast Asia. Java, for example, received Islam by nine men, referred to as the "Wali Sanga" or "Nine Saints," although the historical identity of such people is almost impossible to determine. The foundation of the first Islamic kingdom in Sumatra, the Samudera Pasai Sultanate, took place during the 13th century.

Islam and its notion of exclusivity and finality is incompatible with all other religions and the Chinese concept of heavenly harmony and the Son of Heaven as the enforcer. The integration in the traditional East Asian tributary system with China at the centre Muslim Malays and Indonesians exacted a pragmatic approach of cultural Islam in diplomatic relations with China. [75]

The conversion of the remnants of the Buddhist Srivijaya empire that once controlled trade in much of Southeast Asia, in particular the Strait of Malacca, marked a strategic turning point by turning the strait into an Islamic water. With the fall of Srivijaya, the way was open for effective and widespread proselytization and the establishment of Muslim trading centers. Many modern Malays view the Sultanate of Malacca, which existed from the 15th to the early 16th century, as the first political entity of contemporary Malaysia. [112]

Chinese treasure voyages Edit

By the end of the 14th century, Ming China had conquered Yunnan in the South, yet it had lost control of the Silk Road after the fall of the Mongol Yuan dynasty. The ruling Yongle Emperor resolved to focus on the Indian Ocean sea routes, seeking to consolidate the ancient Imperial Tributary System, establish greater diplomatic and military presence, and widen the Chinese sphere of influence. He ordered the construction of a huge trade and representation fleet that, between 1405 and 1433, undertook several voyages into Southeast Asia, India, the Persian Gulf, and as far as East Africa. Under the leadership of Zheng He, hundreds of naval vessels of then unparalleled size, grandeur, and technological advancement and manned by sizeable military contingents, ambassadors, merchants, artists and scholars repeatedly visited major Southeast Asian principalities. The individual fleets engaged in a number of clashes with pirates and occasionally supported various royal contenders. However, pro-expansionist voices at the court in Beijing lost influence after the 1450s, and the voyages were discontinued. The protraction of the ritualistic ceremonies and scanty travels of emissaries in the Tributary System alone was not sufficient to develop firm and lasting Chinese commercial and political influence in the region, especially during the impending onset of highly competitive global trade. During the Chenghua period of the Ming Dynasty, Liu Daxia, who later became the Shangshu of the Ministry of War, hid or burned the archives of Ming treasure voyages. [113] [114]

European colonisation Edit

The earliest Europeans to have visited Southeast Asia were Marco Polo during the 13th century in the service of Kublai Khan and Niccolò de' Conti during the early 15th century. Regular and momentous voyages only began in the 16th century after the arrival of the Portuguese, who actively sought direct and competitive trade. They were usually accompanied by missionaries, who hoped to promote Christianity. [115] [116]

Portugal was the first European power to establish a bridgehead on the lucrative maritime Southeast Asia trade route, with the conquest of the Sultanate of Malacca in 1511. The Netherlands and Spain followed and soon superseded Portugal as the main European powers in the region. In 1599, Spain began to colonise the Philippines. In 1619, acting through the Dutch East India Company, the Dutch took the city of Sunda Kelapa, renamed it Batavia (now Jakarta) as a base for trading and expansion into the other parts of Java and the surrounding territory. In 1641, the Dutch took Malacca from the Portuguese. [note 1] Economic opportunities attracted Overseas Chinese to the region in great numbers. In 1775, the Lanfang Republic, possibly the first republic in the region, was established in West Kalimantan, Indonesia, as a tributary state of the Qing Empire the republic lasted until 1884, when it fell under Dutch occupation as Qing influence waned. [note 2]

The British, in the guise of the East India Company led by Josiah Child, had little interest or impact in the region, and were effectively expelled following the Anglo-Siamese War. Britain later turned their attention to the Bay of Bengal following the Peace with France and Spain (1783). During the conflicts, Britain had struggled for naval superiority with the French, and the need of good harbours became evident. Penang Island had been brought to the attention of the Government of India by Francis Light. In 1786, the settlement of George Town was founded at the northeastern tip of Penang Island by Captain Francis Light, under the administration of Sir John Macpherson this marked the beginning of British expansion into the Malay Peninsula. [117] [note 3]

The British also temporarily possessed Dutch territories during the Napoleonic Wars and Spanish areas in the Seven Years' War. In 1819, Stamford Raffles established Singapore as a key trading post for Britain in their rivalry with the Dutch. However, their rivalry cooled in 1824 when an Anglo-Dutch treaty demarcated their respective interests in Southeast Asia. British rule in Burma began with the first Anglo-Burmese War (1824–1826).

Early United States entry into what was then called the East Indies (usually in reference to the Malay Archipelago) was low key. In 1795, a secret voyage for pepper set sail from Salem, Massachusetts on an 18-month voyage that returned with a bulk cargo of pepper, the first to be so imported into the country, which sold at the extraordinary profit of seven hundred per cent. [118] In 1831, the merchantman Friendship of Salem returned to report the ship had been plundered, and the first officer and two crewmen murdered in Sumatra.

The Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 obligated the Dutch to ensure the safety of shipping and overland trade in and around Aceh, who accordingly sent the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army on the punitive expedition of 1831. President Andrew Jackson also ordered America's first Sumatran punitive expedition of 1832, which was followed by a punitive expedition in 1838. The Friendship incident thus afforded the Dutch a reason to take over Ache and Jackson, to dispatch diplomatist Edmund Roberts, [119] who in 1833 secured the Roberts Treaty with Siam. In 1856 negotiations for amendment of this treaty, Townsend Harris stated the position of the United States:

The United States does not hold any possessions in the East, nor does it desire any. The form of government forbids the holding of colonies. The United States therefore cannot be an object of jealousy to any Eastern Power. Peaceful commercial relations, which give as well as receive benefits, is what the President wishes to establish with Siam, and such is the object of my mission. [120]

From the end of the 1850s onwards, while the attention of the United States shifted to maintaining their union, the pace of European colonisation shifted to a significantly higher gear. This phenomenon, denoted New Imperialism, saw the conquest of nearly all Southeast Asian territories by the colonial powers. The Dutch East India Company and British East India Company were dissolved by their respective governments, who took over the direct administration of the colonies.

Only Thailand was spared the experience of foreign rule, though Thailand, too, was greatly affected by the power politics of the Western powers. The Monthon reforms of the late 19th Century continuing up till around 1910, imposed a Westernised form of government on the country's partially independent cities called Mueang, such that the country could be said to have successfully colonised itself. [121] Western powers did, however, continue to interfere in both internal and external affairs. [122] [123]

By 1913, the British had occupied Burma, Malaya and the northern Borneo territories, the French controlled Indochina, the Dutch ruled the Netherlands East Indies while Portugal managed to hold on to Portuguese Timor. In the Philippines, the 1872 Cavite Mutiny was a precursor to the Philippine Revolution (1896–1898). When the Spanish–American War began in Cuba in 1898, Filipino revolutionaries declared Philippine independence and established the First Philippine Republic the following year. In the Treaty of Paris of 1898 that ended the war with Spain, the United States gained the Philippines and other territories in refusing to recognise the nascent republic, America effectively reversed her position of 1856. This led directly to the Philippine–American War, in which the First Republic was defeated wars followed with the Republic of Zamboanga, the Republic of Negros and the Republic of Katagalugan, all of which were also defeated.

Colonial rule had had a profound effect on Southeast Asia. While the colonial powers profited much from the region's vast resources and large market, colonial rule did develop the region to a varying extent. Commercial agriculture, mining and an export based economy developed rapidly during this period. The introduction Christianity bought by the colonist also have profound effect in the societal change.

Increased labour demand resulted in mass immigration, especially from British India and China, which brought about massive demographic change. The institutions for a modern nation state like a state bureaucracy, courts of law, print media and to a smaller extent, modern education, sowed the seeds of the fledgling nationalist movements in the colonial territories. In the inter-war years, these nationalist movements grew and often clashed with the colonial authorities when they demanded self-determination.

Japanese invasion and occupations Edit

In September 1940, following the Fall of France and pursuant to the Pacific war goals of Imperial Japan, the Japanese Imperial Army invaded Vichy French Indochina, which ended in the abortive Japanese coup de main in French Indochina of 9 March 1945. On 5 January 1941, Thailand launched the Franco-Thai War, ended on 9 May 1941 by a Japanese-imposed treaty signed in Tokyo. [124] On 7/8 December, Japan's entry into World War II began with the invasion of Thailand, the only invaded country to maintain nominal independence, due to her political and military alliance with the Japanese—on 10 May 1942, her northwestern Payap Army invaded Burma during the Burma Campaign. From 1941 until war's end, Japanese occupied Cambodia, Malaya and the Philippines, which ended in independence movements. Japanese occupation of the Philippines led to the forming of the Second Philippine Republic, formally dissolved in Tokyo on 17 August 1945. Also on 17 August, a proclamation of Indonesian Independence was read at the conclusion of Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies since March 1942.

Post-war decolonisation Edit

With the rejuvenated nationalist movements in wait, the Europeans returned to a very different Southeast Asia after World War II. Indonesia declared independence on 17 August 1945 and subsequently fought a bitter war against the returning Dutch the Philippines was granted independence by the United States in 1946 Burma secured their independence from Britain in 1948, and the French were driven from Indochina in 1954 after a bitterly fought war (the Indochina War) against the Vietnamese nationalists. The United Nations provided a forum for nationalism, post-independent self-definition, nation-building and the acquisition of territorial integrity for many newly independent nations. [125]

During the Cold War, countering the threat of communism was a major theme in the decolonisation process. After suppressing the communist insurrection during the Malayan Emergency from 1948 to 1960, Britain granted independence to Malaya and later, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak in 1957 and 1963 respectively within the framework of the Federation of Malaysia. In one of the most bloody single incidents of violence in Cold War Southeast Asia, General Suharto seized power in Indonesia in 1965 and initiated a massacre of approximately 500,000 alleged members of the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI).

Following the independence of the Indochina states with the battle of Dien Bien Phu, North Vietnamese attempts to conquer South Vietnam resulted in the Vietnam War. The conflict spread to Laos and Cambodia and heavy intervention from the United States. By the war's end in 1975, all these countries were controlled by communist parties. After the communist victory, two wars between communist states—the Cambodian–Vietnamese War of 1975–89 and the Sino-Vietnamese War of 1979—were fought in the region. The victory of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia resulted in the Cambodian genocide. [126] [127]

In 1975, Portuguese rule ended in East Timor. However, independence was short-lived as Indonesia annexed the territory soon after. However, after more than 20 years of fighting Indonesia, East Timor won its independence and was recognised by the UN in 2002. Finally, Britain ended its protectorate of the Sultanate of Brunei in 1984, marking the end of European rule in Southeast Asia.

Modern Southeast Asia has been characterised by high economic growth by most countries and closer regional integration. Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand have traditionally experienced high growth and are commonly recognised as the more developed countries of the region. As of late, Vietnam too had been experiencing an economic boom. However, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and the newly independent East Timor are still lagging economically.

On 8 August 1967, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was founded by Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines. Since Cambodian admission into the union in 1999, East Timor is the only Southeast Asian country that is not part of ASEAN, although plans are under way for eventual membership. The association aims to enhance co-operation among Southeast Asian community. ASEAN Free Trade Area has been established to encourage greater trade among ASEAN members. ASEAN has also been a front runner in greater integration of Asia-Pacific region through East Asia Summits.

The Silk Road, Paper and Guns

• 125 B.C.: The Silk Road - Following capture and escape during a mission for Emperor Wu, Zhang Qian returned after 13 years with a map of the ground he had covered. Reaching as far as Afghanistan, his maps were accurate and led to the international trade route the Silk Road.

• 105 A.D.: Paper and books - Cai Lun developed paper by pounding together ingredients like bamboo, hemp, bark and others and spreading the pulp flat.

Paper use spread quickly across the empire, with the first Chinese dictionary, compiled by Xu Shen, and the first book of Chinese history, written by Sima Qian soon appearing.

• 850 A.D.: Gunpowder - Alchemists working with saltpeter for medicinal purposes mixed it with charcoal and sulfur. The explosive properties that resulted were used in warfare to propel arrows by the Tang Dynasty, as well as fireworks.

• 868 A.D.: Printing press - The earliest known printed book, The Diamond Sutra, was created during the Tang Dynasty. It was soon followed by calendars and educational material.

• 1260 A.D.: Kublai Khan - The grandson of Genghis conquered the Song Dynasty and established the Yuan Dynasty, unifying China and bringing Mongolia, Siberia and parts of the Middle East and even Europe into the Chinese Empire.

Kublai Khan introduced paper money, met with Marco Polo, brought the first Muslims to the country and attempted to conquer Japan.

• 1557: World trade - The Ming Dynasty expanded China’s maritime trade to export silk and porcelain wares. A European presence was allowed within the empire and Chinese merchants emigrated to locations outside the realm for the first time.

• 1683: Taiwan - This Dutch-controlled island was seized by Ming Dynasty General Koxinga in 1662, and annexed by the Qing Dynasty 21 years later.

Advances in Labor Rights

September 8, 1965: Facing the threat of pay cuts and demanding improved working conditions, the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee, made up mostly of Filipino farmworkers, begins the five-year-long Delano Grape strike in California that prompts a global grape boycott. Led by Filipino-American Larry Itliong, the workers are soon joined by Cesar Chavez and Latino workers, and the two unions ultimately join to form United Farm Workers.

Larry Itliong (UFW director, center) with Julio Hernandez (UFW officer, left) and Cesar Chavez at Chevez&aposs Huelga Day March in San Francisco, 1966.

Gerald L French/Corbis/Getty Images

October 3, 1965: President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Immigration and Nationality Act into law. Also known as the Hart-Celler Act, it puts an end to immigration policies based on ethnicity and race and quota systems, resulting in a wave of Asian immigrants who had been barred from entry.

August 19, 1973: Martial arts movie Enter the Dragon premieres, three weeks after its action star, Bruce Lee, dies from an allergic reaction to pain medication in Hong Kong. In his first starring role in a Hollywood film, the box office hit cements Lee, born in 1940 in San Francisco and raised in Hong Kong, as a film icon.

March 28, 1979: President Jimmy Carter proclaims a week in May is to be designated Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week, which would be continued by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. In 1990, Bush broadens the observance to cover the month of May and, in 1992, Congress passes a law permanently designating May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. May is chosen in honor of the first official Japanese immigrant&aposs arrival in the U.S. on May 7, 1843, and because May 10, 1869, marks the completion of the transcontinental railroad.

June 23, 1982: Four days after being held down and beaten in the head with a baseball bat by two white autoworkers in Detroit, Vincent Chin dies. The Chinese American and his friends were confronted during his bachelor party by Ronald Ebens and his stepson, Michael Nitz, who, according to witnesses, blamed their unemployment on the rise of Japanese car imports. Ebens and Nitz, convicted of manslaughter in a plea deal, were sentenced to three years probation and a $3,000 fine with no jail time. The verdict�lled 𠇊 license to kill for $3,000, provided you have a steady job or are a student and the victim is Chinese,&apos&apos according to Kin Yee, president of the Detroit Chinese Welfare Council—leads to protests and outrage in the Asian American community.

June 24, 1982: More than 20,000 garment workers, most of whom are female immigrants from China and Hong Kong, rally in New York’s Chinatown after labor union negotiations stall. A second rally is held the next month, with a one-day strike taking place July 15, the largest in the history of Chinatown that ends with employers accepting the union’s contract demands.

Conflicting signals

2003 August - Khin Nyunt becomes prime minister. He proposes to hold convention in 2004 on drafting new constitution as part of "road map" to democracy.

2003 November - Five senior NLD leaders released from house arrest after visit of UN human rights envoy.

2004 January - Government and Karen National Union - most significant ethnic group fighting government - agree to end hostilities.

2004 May - Constitutional convention begins, despite boycott by National League for Democracy (NLD) whose leader Aung San Suu Kyi remains under house arrest. The convention adjourns in July.

3. HIV/AIDS 1981-Present

A deadly epidemic is occurring right now in the Third World. HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a mostly sexually transmitted condition that normally does not show any symptoms for a prolonged period of time. Other causes include contaminated blood, infected needles, and mother to child transmission during breastfeeding and pregnancy.

After coming out of latency, the virus causes sufferers to develop AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), which prevents the victim’s immune system from fighting disease and generally leads to death from infections or cancer.

The condition was first observed in America in 1981, but it has since spread across the world. AIDS is particularly common in Sub-Saharan Africa, where as many as 15% of the population are infected in some areas. Since its discovery, HIV/AIDS has caused between 25 and 30 million deaths. There’s a reason governments spent most of the 1980s trying to promote safe sex.

Timeline Of South Asian History

Madrasian Culture 2,500,000BC

The Madrasian culture occurred during the Lower Palaeolithic period around 2,500,000BC. The culture has been identified as one of the earliest divisions of the Stone Age era characterized by tools such as flake tools, microliths, cleavers and bifacial hand axes. The tools were primarily made of quartzite. One of the Madrasian sites is Attirampakkam which is located near Chennai city (formerly Madras).

Riwatian People 1,900,000BC

Like the Madrasian culture, the Riwatian culture existed during the Lower Palaeolithic period. One of the Riwatian sites was discovered in Pakistan’s Punjab region. The people of these cultures made similar tools to those of the Madrasian culture with quartzite as well. Excavations in prehistoric sites linked with the Riwatian period identify evidence of occupation by Homo erectus from Africa. Homo erectus is associated with the development of the Oldowan industry which came after the Riwatian era.

Soanian People 500,000BC

The Soanian culture occurred in regions of India, Pakistan, and Nepal between 500,000 and 125,000 BC. The Soanian is also a lower Palaeolithic culture with significant sites in Adiala, Chauntra, Khasala Kalan, Khasala Khurd, and Sivalic Hill. Homo erectus man lived during this period relying heavily on the use of bifacial hand axes, and other tools made of quartzite, jasper, and Chert. The tools were characterized by increasingly wavy edges made through flaking.

Stone Age 50,000-3000BC

The Stone Age covered three distinct periods including the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic period. The major feature of the Stone Age era is the use of stone tools. The period covers a unique era of evolution and development of human civilization linked to the discovery and use of tools. Stone Age sites such as Batadombalena and Balilena of Sri Lanka have shown evidence of Homo sapiens residence in South Asia during the period.Homo sapiens is said to have first originated from the Sri Lankan region before spreading to other areas. Early humans during this period lived in stone caves.

Bronze Age 3000-1300BC

The Bronze Age period followed the Stone Age period and lasted between 3000 and 1300 BC. The Indus valley civilization is said to have evolved towards the end of this period. The period is characterized by the increased knowledge in tool-making and other handicraft skills. The civilization during this time had a more organized urban structure with brick houses, drainage, and water supply systems, and use of metals such as bronze, copper, and lead. Sites with Bronze Age artifacts include Tamil Nadu, Indus River, and Punjab province.

Iron Age, 1200-230BC

During this period, iron was the primary tool making material due to the increased knowledge in the melting of iron ore. In South Asia, the period occurred towards the end of the Indus civilization period. During this period, humans would make weapons made from alloys through the use of kilns. These developments saw the increased use of steel weapons. Cultures existing during the South Asian Iron Age include black and red ware culture, Painted Gray Ware culture, Panchala, Kuru kingdom, and Maurya Empire.

Classical Period, 230BC-AD1279

South Asia experienced a period of re-urbanisation and religious, and literacy growth following the unification under the Gupta Empire. During this period, Jainism and Buddhism developed as new religions which developed new aspects and practices. Principles of morality in Buddhism led to its popularity in South Asia and later in other regions of Asia. The period was also characterized by increased artistic creativity, advancement in agriculture, scientific and technological innovations including the invention of the decimal numeral system, as well as improvements in engineering and architecture. Islam also spread in the region during this period.

Late Medieval Period, 1206-1596

The late medieval period began in 1206 and ended in 1596. This period included various rules and dynasties in the Indian subcontinent including the Delhi, Mamluk, Khilji, and Tughlaq, Sayyid, and Lodi Sultanates, the kingdoms of Deva, Ahom, Chitradurga and Reddy, the Vijayanagara Empire among other dynasties. The region during this period lacked a definite paramount leader with several rulers existing during the late medieval period. The period was succeeded by the more organized and powerful Mughal empire.

Early Modern Period, 1526-1858

The early modern period in South Asia was marked by the rise of the Mughal Empire in 1526 and ended after the fall of the empire in 1857. In this period, the empire enjoyed high levels of expansion from conquests in Samarkand, Punjab, and Kabul. The empire was one of the most powerful with seven generations of rulers, who had a remarkable talent in leadership and established highly organized administrative systems. Despite the leaders being of Islamic origins, they had a tolerance for Hinduism which was important in prolonging the empire. The empire was annexed by colonial powers in the 19th century.

Colonial Period, 1510-1961

The colonial period in South Asia began during the 16th century with the arrival of the Europeans in Asia and ended in the 20th century. The first European to arrive in the region was Vasco da Gama in the 15th century which attracted more Portuguese traders. The Dutch arrived shortly after the Portuguese and ruled the Ceylon (currently Sri Lanka) for 137 years. The British later occupied the Calcutta and Madras regions in the 17th century. The arrival of the French in 1674 led to competition between the British and French which was also influenced by their wars in Europe. After the defeat of French in 1757 in Bengal, British became the dominant power in the Indian peninsula. The colonial period ended in the mid-20th century during which India was partitioned.

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