History (General)

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What role does history have in the development of a country?

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History plays an important role in the development of a country. For example, the United States would be a different country today if France or Spain had ruled us instead of Great Britain. We might have a different form of government. Our culture and language likely would be different.

When a country is involved in wars, it will impact the country. The Continental United States has never been invaded in its history. Unlike some European countries like France and Germany, where major wars have been fought, the United States hasn’t suffered the physical and the emotional consequences of war to the degree that other countries have faced. Japan is still dealing with the effects of having two atomic bombs being dropped on Japan. The Germans still are dealing with memories of the Holocaust. It took years for the land in some European countries to recover from the fighting that took place there in World War I and in World War II.

The Native Americans have been impacted by history. They have suffered many diseases since they came into contact with the Europeans. They also have had much of their land taken away by government actions.

We have a free market economy because of our history. There have been no revolutions allowing the government to exert a lot of influence in the economy, unlike in China and Russia, where civil war and revolution led to the establishment of a communist government.

History clearly impacts the development of a country.


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There are several ways in which to answer this question. Here are a few perspectives. 

First, Orwell had a pithy quote in the novel 1984. It said that the one who controls the past controls the future. From this perspective, knowing history can shape a nation or group of people. For example, knowing that there was enslavement or colonization can create a desire for justice. This can turn into a movement and shape the course of a nation or group. Think of the Civil Rights movement. 

Second, since the world is a history of violence, past injustices and acts of brutality can affect a country or people for years to come.  For example, incessant war or wars or proxy can hinder development for years. Think of Afghanistan and the involvement of the former Soviet Union and then the US, not to mention the many civil wars.  

Third, religious traditions can also exert profound influence on nations. If a country embraces a religious tradition, in time there will be practical effects. Buddhism has undoubted changed South East Asia. Christianity has shaped America, and Islam has shaped the Middle East. 

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History can affect a country's development in very important ways.  The clearest example of this is in countries that have been colonized by other countries.  The colonized countries often are less developed. This typically happens because the colonizer set up an economic and governmental system that benefited itself and not the colonized country.  This means that the colonized country has a harder time developing because its economy is geared to helping another country or countries and because its people do not have the skills and habits needed for participation in a democratic system.  Thus, history has an important role in shaping a country's level of development today.

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