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TIME’s Atlas Of The Millennium

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1000 The Empires Of Islam

Caliphs in Cairo, Cordoba and Baghdad rend the unity of Islam, but not the prosperity. Gold from Nubia and the Caucasus is mined into dinars, the common currency from Spain to Lahore; and slaves from Asia, Europe and Africa labor in mines, cities, armies and harems from Cadiz to Samarkand. Meanwhile, Europe is still limping out of the Dark Ages.

World Population 300 million

Center of the World Baghdad: Bazaar of world trade; seat of the most prestigious caliphate. Rivals: Constantinople in the Byzantine Empire; Kaifeng in Song dynasty China.

Most Valued Commodities –Gold –Silk –Slaves –Porcelain –Silver

1300 Heirs To The Great Khan

Kublai Khan’s family rules China. Korea and Mongolia from Dadu (today’s Beijing), but related Mongol khanates in central Asia and Russia are virtually independent if not hostile; and the once subservient (and Buddhist) Il-Khans of Persia have converted to Islam. Meanwhile, drawn by the decay of Byzantium, Osman and his Turks germinate the Ottoman Empire in Anatolia.

World Population 396 million

Center of the World Dadu: Magnet for trade, diplomacy, and the fabled riches of Asia. Rivals: Venice, merchant of the Mediterranean; Timbuktu, golden capital of Mali

Most Valued Commodities –Gold –Slaves –Silk –Porcelain –Spices

1500 Europe Takes To The Seas

The richest empires are Ming dynasty China and the realm of the Ottomans, which blocks western Europe’s old land routes to the east. Portugal and Spain seek oceanic alternatives; Lisbon rounds the Cape of Good Hope to reach India; Madrid crosses the Atlantic in hopes of landing in Marco Polo’s Cathay but finds the Americas instead. Two continents are suddenly open to conquest.

World Population 480 million

Center of the World Constantinople: Symbol of Ottoman wealth and military power. Rivals: Beijing, capital of Ming China; Florence, epicenter of the Renaissance.

Most Valued Commodities –Gold –Porcelain –Spices –Textiles –Guns

1700 Traders And Trade Wars

Louis XIV’s France in pre-eminent in a Europe of rival commercial powers about to embark on the long war of the Spanish succession (and over the fate of Spain’s rich colonies). It will take place in Europe (France and Spain vs. Austria, England and the Netherlands) and in North America (French colonists vs. their British counterparts).

World Population 640 million

Center of the World Versailles: Louis XIV’s palace is the place to be Rivals: London–colonies and commerce make it Europe’s largest city; Mexico City, the jewel of Spanish America

Most Valued Commodities –Gold –Slaves –Textiles –Tea –Timber

1900 Pax Britannica

Britannia rules an empire on which the sun never sets. And Western powers rule almost every other part of the world. Japan emulates Europe and the U.S. and joins Britain, Russia, France and Germany in contemplating the dismemberment of the decrepit Chinese Empire. Nationalism sows the seeds of two world wars.

World Population 1.65 billion

Center of the World London: Heart of the world’s largest empire. Rivals: Berlin, the Kaiser’s haughty home base; San Francisco, cosmopolis built by gold, fed by trade and trains.

Most Values Commodities –Gold –Coal –Timber –Steel –Armaments

2000 Pax Electronica

More than 200 countries make up the world–and it’s still fraying. But the Internet is now the medium for imperium, as electronic democracy links even tyrannies with an increasingly World Wide Web. As chips grow cheaper, the new have-nots are the technologically under-served. What spark can pull the global plug?

World population 6 billion

Center of the World New York City: “If you can make it there…” Rivals: Silicon Valley, Calif., and its playground San Francisco; Shanghai, Asia’s once and future boomtown.

Most Valued Commodities –Petroleum –Microchips –Airplanes –Armaments –Movies

Sources: Atlas of World History; U.N.

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