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A Brief History of International Relations

The World Made Easy

Kathleen Brush

The world does not need to be complex and confusing. It can be made simpler so that the business, political, social, and economic implications of global news briefs beaming across televisions and electronic devices can be easily grasped. Key to this is knowing that a five-hundred-year competition for global supremacy between the Chinese, European, Islamic, and Russian empires only ended in 1945. When it did, the world had 57 independent nations. After all empires were dissolved in 1991, there were 193, and each nation carried histories of empires in the form of conquest, religions followed, languages practiced, diversified populations, repressive rule, and histories of discrimination. A Brief History of International Relations: The World Made Easy explores this history of global conflict to contextualize and simplify the often perplexing relations between nations and empires.

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Chapter 8. The Presence of Religions: Aftermaths of Empire


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Aftermaths of Empire

The four major organized religions: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam existed long before the Era of Empire began. The youngest, Islam was founded in the 7th century. When the era commenced, there were millions of followers of all four faiths in Old World Asia and Europe, but there were also millions following indigenous and other eastern religions. When the era ended, the major organized religions dominated all six inhabited continents.

The empires most committed to religious expansion were the European and the Islamic, and both were enormously successful. No empires fought to expand or preserve Buddhism or Hinduism, and these religions lost presence.

Christianity was the biggest winner. When the competition began all Christian nations were in Europe but Ethiopia in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), and Armenia in Central Asia (CA).1 When it ended, the three New World continents were also overwhelmingly Christian, and sub-Saharan Africa had a Christian majority.

The expansion of Islam was also impressive. When the competition began, Islam had already made substantial inroads in the Middle East and North Africa. During the competition, it expanded further into Africa, South Asia (SA), Southeast Asia (SEA), and Central Europe (CE).

In the Era of Nation-States, more than 80 percent of nations would have a Christian or Islamic majority. Hindu and Buddhist-majority nations would ← 57 | 58 → represent another 5 percent. Most others had syncretic...

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