Characterizing the Interactions between Asia and the World

Characterizingthe Interactions between Asia and the World

Asiais a continent that has made significant impacts in the world throughits interactions with other continents. Before the 19thcentury, Asia exerted significant interactions in the world that werecharacterized by a number of factors. Being the largest continent inthe world, the continent provides a significant influence in terms ofeconomics, social and political perspective. This makes it importantto study the history of the country before the turn of the NineteenthCentury and understand the interactions it made with the world. Thediscussion will reveal the characteristics of the economic, socialand political interactions between Asia and the world.

Oneof the characteristics of the interaction between Asia and the worldbefore the nineteenth century is that it was based on trade. Asiancountries were highly involved in trade between themselves and alsowith other continents (Rao 10). This is because the Asians werepredominantly traders who explored new markets for their goods andservices. A good example of this characteristic is the trade betweenIndia and the rest of the world. Before the 19thcentury, India and China were the world’s largest economies.However, they were overtaken by the British Empire after the 19thcentury. Therefore, every country in the world wanted to be involvedin trade with China, which formed a basis of interaction.

Oneof the characteristics of economic interaction was through caravantraders and merchants. Through caravans, trade interactions betweenAsia and the world were realized, especially in areas like West Asiaand China, as early as the late thirteenth century (Rao 8). As earlyas the mid-fifteenth century, the Europeans led by Portuguese startedventuring into Asia to look for trade markets for their product andbuy from Asian sellers. In Portugal, a number of trading markets wereexplored throughout Asia, especially South East Asia. For instance,Vasco DA Gama and other explores engaged in trade relations with thepeople of Asia and introduced sea routes that connected the twocontinents (Bowman242).One of the common goods that the Portuguese traded for at this timewas spices.

Anothercharacteristic of economic interaction was that Asia was contributingto the satisfaction of the world demand. For instance, the continentwas known for the production of spices and in demand for jewelry.Therefore, merchants sought to sell their products to the outsidecontinents and get the rare products. In addition, the Asiancontinent engaged in trade with the African continent. The Indianmerchants started making expeditions for trade links between them andAfrican market as early as the 16thcentury (Bowman245).This opened the country into the acquisition of new products andnatural resources. For instance, the Chinese exported silk, medicinalpreparations and silver. In return, they imported ivory, rare wood,jewels, herbs and cotton.

Anothercharacteristic that marked the interaction between Asia and the worldwas the control of its trade by its political systems. The fifteenthand sixteenth century marked a period where trade expeditions werecontrolled by the leaders in the continent (Rao 10). The continenthas several dynasties, such as the Chinese dynasties and Indiankingdoms. The rulers controlled the export of their products to gainincome to rule the kingdoms.

Onthe social perspective, one of the most conspicuous characteristicsof Asian interaction with the world was religion. The Asians had astrong influence over the world before the Nineteenth Century interms of religion. Muslim was highly practiced in the Asiancountries, which is responsible for the spread of the religion toother parts of the world. The religion of Islam was spread from theAsian countries to other countries through trade and socialinteractions (Rao 199). This was because the traders spent time inthe foreign lands for long periods of time, therefore influencingtheir hosts. This is the reason why most of the West African andnorth African countries are Islam in the modern day.

Anothercharacteristic of the Asian interaction with the world was theirinfluence on the world languages. The Asian merchants played a rolein the spread of the Asian languages in other parts of the world. Forinstance, the use of Arabic language in turkey was as a result of theinfluence of the Arabic countries (Rao 199). In addition, Arabiclanguage spread to the African continent is as a result of thelanguage spread was started by the Arab merchants from the IslamicAsian countries (Bowman43).At the same time, the Islam language influenced other languages inAfrica and other parts of the world were the Islam merchants settledor explored for trade. The same impact is observed when foreignmerchants and explores settled in Asian countries.

Oneof the most important characteristics of the interaction between Asiaand the world was the dominant nature that foreigners had on thepolitical factors of the continent. The entry of foreign powers, suchas the United States and Europeans led to significant impacts on theAsian countries (Bowman28).This is because the Europeans and Americans were seeking politicalcontrol in order to acquire economic gains from these countries. Thisis observed in the nature of entry and use of military force to seekdominance in the Asian countries. The dominance of the foreign powerswas despite the existence of independent kingdoms, governments andempires in the Asian continent.

Tocreate the dominant characteristic, the foreign powers used militaryto conquer or to dominate or control the Asian countries. Forinstance, the Dutch established conquests in East Asia, such asBatavia, as early as the sixteenth century (Bowman443).They later established the Dutch East India Company and spread toMalacca and Japan. After the Dutch, the British and the Frenchestablished bases in India, mostly in order to trade with China(Bowman443).After the interests of the two European nations grew, they competedand eventually fought in the Seven Year’s War in 1763. The battleconcluded with the elimination of the French from the region by theBritish (Bowman287).

Anothercharacteristic of the interaction between Asia and the world beforethe nineteenth century was the influence of the western education onthe Asians. The Asians experienced a significant change in theirsocial and economic aspects as the western foreigners introducededucation and civilization. This came will the Christian missionarieswho explored the Asian nations. For instance, as early as the 16thecentury, Christian European missionaries like MatteoRiccientered China and spread the western education and religion (Bowman91).At the same time, Europeans also lent the Chinese science and wisdomdespite being limited in certain parts of China.


Theinteractions between Asia and the world before the 19thcentury were characterized by economic activities, spread oflanguages and exchange of social aspects like civilization. The Asianculture influenced the areas they explored in terms of culture,language and trade. However, the interaction between Asia and theforeign powers like European countries and the United States wasmarked by dominance as the foreigners sought political and economiccontrol. These interactions created social, economic and politicalfactors that have influenced Asia since and shaped the history of thecontinent up to the current times.


Bowman,John.&nbspColumbiaChronologies of Asian History and Culture,New York City:&nbspColumbiaUniversity Press, 2013, Print

Rao,Belona. Historyof Asia.NewDelhi:SterlingPublishers Pvt. Ltd, Print