How Did China Become So Powerful?

Once upon a time there was a beautiful kingdom called China. It had stunning mountains, gorgeous valleys, and hundreds of miles of coastline. Its government was sophisticated and efficient. Its leaders dressed in silk.  It was the wealthiest country in the world. Alas, the beautiful kingdom’s glory did not last. Foreigners invaded the land and exploited it. The people tried to resist foreign domination—their failure only made their condition worse.

After a century of humiliation, China is once more a major player in world affairs.It is the world’s second largest economy. 700 million people have escaped poverty. How did China do it?

Why is Latin America Poorer than the United States?

It is hard to believe how much richer the United States is than Latin America. Each year, the US economy generates more than three times as much wealth as the twenty countries of Latin America combined. Before Columbus arrived in 1492, the largest, wealthiest, and most technologically advanced societies were in South America and modern-day Mexico. What changed? Why are garages in the US larger than many homes in Latin America?

Why is Africa Poor?

75% of the world’s poorest countries are in Africa. More than 25% of Africans are malnourished. 30% lack access to clean water. In 2016, Africa’s GDP per person was $1,809—barely 10% of the world average.

Why is Africa so poor?

Why is South Korea So Rich?

The competition for Korea’s most famous cultural export is now closed. With more than 3 billion views, Gangnam Style has done more to put South Korea on the map than anything else. The video portrays South Korea as confident, stylish, and prosperous—and that’s accurate.

What’s remarkable is how quickly South Korea became one of the most advanced economies in the world. In 1960, the average South Korean was poorer than the average person in Senegal, Honduras, or the Philippines. Today, they are more than ten times richer. How did that happen?

What is the Electoral College?

Every four years, people all over the world watch as the results of the American presidential election come in. By the end of the night, the result is usually clear but how the process actually works is anything but. The source of confusion is the Electoral College. To win, a candidate needs to have 270 votes in the Electoral College. But what is it? What is the relationship between the few hundred voters in the Electoral College and the tens of millions who went to the polls on election day? It seems a bizarre way of choosing the president of the most powerful country in the world.

What is Boko Haram?

When Boko Haram comes on the news, you may want to turn away. Boko Haram is an Islamic terrorist organization in Northern Nigeria that has killed hundreds in the past decade. The media largely ignores the steady stream of horrors, but the group received widespread attention in 2014 for the kidnapping of 276 girls from their school dormitory. The Nigerian police and army seem incapable of halting the atrocities. The international community seems not to care.

What’s behind the violence of Boko Haram?

Why Do India and Pakistan Hate Each Other?

Pakistan and India don’t like each other at all. With good reason. Pakistan’s intelligence agency has given support to Pakistani terrorists in India, who have killed hundreds over the past decade. On the Indian side of the border, where many would prefer to live under Pakistan’s authority, Indian troops have killed tens of thousands. Both countries have nuclear missiles pointed at the other. They have fought four wars in living memory. The relationship between India and Pakistan is one of the most hostile in the world today. Why?

Why is Afghanistan So Hard to Control?

Every time Tom Collins returned to Chicago, people asked him the same question. They wanted to know why Afghanistan was such a mess. His friends and family followed the news from that part of the world more closely than most because Tom had been working there for more than a decade. He had a group chat to reassure people that he was OK after every tragedy.

How Did Sweden Get its Welfare System?

If you believe that governments should look after their people, you’ll love Sweden. Sweden’s welfare system—the benefits the state gives to its citizens—may be the best in the world. Swedes live longer than people from almost every other country and they are happier, too. Part of the reason is their solid social safety net. How did Sweden get it?