This chapter provides the historical context within which to understand the origins and the evolution of the global system. It begins with a review of the emergence of the modern world, looking particularly at its European roots in discovery, colonization, industrialization and imperialism. It then looks at the causes and effects of the two world wars, the end of Europe’s empires, and the Cold War. It reviews the economic, political and social changes that have come since the end of the Cold War, and their effects on the global system. The chapter ends with a discussion about the meaning and effects of globalization.
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