• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What accounts for the fact that Britain was the richest country in Europe in the 1870 - 1914 period?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

What Accounts for the fact that Britain was the richest country in Europe in the 1870 - 1914 period? "In the half century or so before the 1914 war . . . if any nation had truly made a bid for world power, it was Great Britain. In fact, it had more than made a bid for it. It had achieved it."1. By 1914, Britain was considered as the world's greatest power; it controlled the world's largest empire, a fifth of the world's land surface and a quarter of the world's population. The British navy was the worlds finest; it was even more powerful and larger than the next two navies combined. In its zenith, Britain was the manufacturing workshop of the world, with one third of all manufactured goods coming from her shores; it produced "two thirds of the worlds coal and half of the world's cotton, cloth and iron"2. From this position, it conducted over one quarter of the worlds trade and in 1914; the registered shipping tonnage was more than the whole world combined. Not only was Britain considered economically rich but also politically and socially, she had one of the world's highest living standards, healthiest population and most progressive governments. ...read more.

Middle

There was little competition from abroad and therefore European countries were, just as British colonies were, important buyers of British manufacturers. For the early part of the 1870-1914 period, Britain kept at the forefront of technological fields. New processes in the metal industry such as Bessemer's converter system, which could produce steel at much lower prices and Siemen's open-hearth process, which could produce a stronger type of steel, encouraged growth in engineering industries. This combined with the increase in population caused the demand for manufactured goods at home to increase dramatically. Noticeably the railway industry saw enormous injections of investment; the 'railway boom' resulting in a total of 14,510 miles of track in 1880. This not only created extra jobs but also created a large market for the iron industry; coal industry and most importantly enabled the transportation of manufactured goods of all kinds to ports much more quickly. This coupled Britain's strangle hold on the seas in merchant shipping played a vital role in the increase of British exports. The great spurt of industrialisation meant Britain not only longer dominated the world economy through its navy and its extensive colonies, but now more importantly through its productivity of its leading industries. The years preceding 1870 saw the volume of British goods manufactured and exported increase, however their share in world exports declined; from 18.9% in 1870 to 13.9% in 1913. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, in absolute and per capita terms Britain was still ahead of leading European economies, undoubtedly they were catching up with Britain but they had not overtaken her and by 1914 Britain was still the richest country in the whole of Europe. 1914 saw all European powers on the verge of a catastrophic war, Britain which in 1870 had was the unanimously unchallenged country in Europe was now confronted by its nearest economic rival Germany. Hitler commented "We can safely make one prophecy: whatever the outcome of this war the British Empire is at an end it has been mortally wounded."13 At the beginning of the 1870 -1914 period Britain was at the technical frontier of all industries, it ruled one fifth of the whole world, had an unequalled naval force and was the richest country in Europe. In 1914, Britain retained much of this, the basis of which came from political and economic policy followed for the previous century. Britain still enjoyed the fruits of being the first country to industrialise, the abandonment of protectionist tariffs for the adoption of total laissez faire economic policy and the vast resource of its empire. Although economic growth in Britain had slowed, it was still growth; Britain's share of world trade had also fallen; yet, it was still the largest single share. "The roots of world power were withering even if the visible foliage seemed more impressive than ever". ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level UK, European & Global Economics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level UK, European & Global Economics essays

  1. International entrepreneurship in Europe

    Results show that these three dimensions of the institutional profile, as well as economic factors, play distinct roles in promoting entrepreneurial activity in a country. Cognitive institutions explained the prevalence of small firms in a country, as well as the number of new companies listed on the country's stock exchange.

  2. Flower Industry in Netherlands

    Don't give a knife. * Do keep hands out of pockets while talking to someone or shaking hands. * Don't criticize the Dutch Royal Family, but enquiring about them is okay. * At the dinner table, don't rest hands in your laps. Always keep both wrists resting above the table.

  1. Colonialism and Colonies.

    Mercantilists assumed that the volume of world wealth and trade was relatively static, so one country's gain required another's loss. According to this view, a colonial possession should provide wealth to the country that controlled it. Colonies were not supposed to compete with the mother country's home industries.

  2. European background to the scramble for Africa (1850 to 1900)

    took over the Portuguese posts between 1637 and 1642 * From that point most trade took place along the Atlantic shoreline and until 1650 they focused on gold * Many places remained unvisited by the Europeans but those that were became more aware of the wider world and acquired new

  1. Where does the World Trade Organisation fit in the overall scheme of international public ...

    to the WTO. The good news is that agreement at Doha provided a short-term psychological boost to a demoralised and weakened post-Seattle WTO, and to the wider process of globalisation. Failure at Doha would have crippled the WTO, perhaps fatally, and speeded up regional block formation, leaving poor and weak

  2. To What Extent Did Imperial Concerns Guide British Foreign Policy Between 1890- 1907?

    The country had sever military links with politics the Kaiser was also 'supreme warlord'. Its empire is best described as small scattered empire and only possessed ten colonial territories by 1914 compared to the twenty- nine French colonial territories by 1914.

  1. Environmental Economics HSC Notes

    * Public goods are NON-RIVAL ? consumption of the good by one individual consumer does not reduce the quantity of the good available for other consumers.

  2. Infation HSC Notes

    Between 1996 and 2009 both the headline and underlying inflation rate has averaged 2.6%. The high inflation rate of the 1970s and the 1980s was only stopped by the recession of the early 1990s. Australia emerged from this recession with historically low inflation rates, and soon after the RBA started to target monetary policy to sustain 2-3% inflation.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work