Guns, Germs, and Steel

date Dec 9, 2020
authors Jared Diamond
reading time 28 mins

Different development

Literate vs Illiterate world

some parts of the world developed literate industrial societies with metal tools, other parts developed only nonliterate farming societies, and still others retained societies of hunter-gatherers with stone tools. Those historical inequalities have cast long shadows on the modern world, because the literate societies with metal tools have conquered or exterminated the other societies.

Differences in parts of the world

While Aboriginal Australians and many Native Americans remained hunter-gatherers, most of Eurasia and much of the Americas and sub-Saharan Africa gradually developed agriculture, herding, metallurgy, and complex political organization.

Political centralization was essential for some developments

That is, political centralization arose for some other reason and then permitted construction of complex irrigation systems. None of the crucial developments preceding political centralization in those same parts of the world were associated with river valleys or with complex irrigation systems.

Island cultures are diverse

When ancestral Polynesians spread into the Pacific around 3,200 years ago, they encountered islands differing greatly in their environments. Within a few millennia that single ancestral Polynesian society had spawned on those diverse islands a range of diverse daughter societies, from hunter-gatherer tribes to proto-empires.


Evolution of humans

Fossils indicate that the evolutionary line leading to us had achieved a substantially upright posture by around 4 million years ago, then began to increase in body size and in relative brain size around 2.5 million years ago.

What happened about 100,000 and 50,000 years ago?

perfection of the voice box and hence for the anatomical basis of modern language, on which the exercise of human creativity is so dependent. Others have suggested instead that a change in brain organization around that time, without a change in brain size, made modern language possible.

How did many large mammals dissappeared around the same time?

The near-simultaneous disappearance of so many large species raises an obvious question: what caused it? An obvious possible answer is that they were killed off or else eliminated indirectly by the first arriving humans.

Not many native domesticated animals for farming later on

Those extinctions eliminated all the large wild animals that might otherwise have been candidates for domestication, and left native Australians and New Guineans with not a single native domestic animal.

Migration rate of travel

One might at first be surprised that Clovis descendants could reach Patagonia, lying 8,000 miles south of the U.S.-Canada border, in less than a thousand years. However, that translates into an average expansion of only 8 miles per year, a trivial feat for a hunter-gatherer likely to cover that distance even within a single day’s normal foraging.

Islands were the last to be occupied by humans

The settlement of the world’s remaining islands was not completed until modern times: Mediterranean islands such as Crete, Cyprus, Corsica, and Sardinia between about 8500 and 4000 B.C.; Caribbean islands beginning around 4000 B.C.; Polynesian and Micronesian islands between 1200 B.C. and A.D. 1000; Madagascar sometime between A.D. 300 and 800; and Iceland in the ninth century A.D.

Why did an Incan Emperor not reach Spain first instead?

How did Pizarro come to be there to capture him, instead of Atahuallpa’s coming to Spain to capture King Charles I? Why did Atahuallpa walk into what seems to us, with the gift of hindsight, to have been such a transparent trap?

Diseases infection

diseases transmitted to peoples lacking immunity by invading peoples with considerable immunity. Smallpox, measles, influenza, typhus, bubonic plague, and other infectious diseases endemic in Europe played a decisive role in European conquests, by decimating many peoples on other continents.


How it began and how we are still using them

It was only within the last 11,000 years that some peoples turned to what is termed food production: that is, domesticating wild animals and plants and eating the resulting livestock and crops. Today, most people on Earth consume food that they produced themselves or that someone else produced for them.

Usefulness of domestic animals

In human societies possessing domestic animals, livestock fed more people in four distinct ways: by furnishing meat, milk, and fertilizer and by pulling plows. First and most directly, domestic animals became the societies’ major source of animal protein, replacing wild game.

Domestic animals were available in Eurasia rather than in Americas, Australia or Africa

Hence the availability of domestic plants and animals ultimately explains why empires, literacy, and steel weapons developed earliest in Eurasia and later, or not at all, on other continents.

How crops spread

hunter-gatherers in parts of southeastern Europe had quickly adopted Southwest Asian cereal crops, pulse crops, and livestock simultaneously as a complete package by around 6000 B.C. All three of these elements also spread rapidly through central Europe in the centuries before 5000 B.C.

Many food are inedibale and dangerous

Adventurous hikers cautiously eat mushrooms, aware that many species can kill us. But not even ardent nut lovers eat wild almonds, of which a few dozen contain enough cyanide (the poison used in Nazi gas chambers) to kill us. The forest is full of many other plants deemed inedible.

2000 years ago all crops for modern humans were ready!

THUS, BY ROMAN times, almost all of today’s leading crops were being cultivated somewhere in the world… Our failure to domesticate even a single major new food plant in modern times suggests that ancient peoples really may have explored virtually all useful wild plants and domesticated all the ones worth domesticating.

Why fertile crescent

Fertile Crescent or other parts of western Eurasia’s Mediterranean zone, which offered a huge selection to incipient farmers: about 32 of the world’s 56 prize wild grasses! Specifically, barley and emmer wheat, the two earliest important crops of the Fertile Crescent, rank respectively 3rd and 13th in seed size among those top 56. In contrast, the Mediterranean zone of Chile offered only two of those species, California and southern Africa just one each, and southwestern Australia none at all.

Mesoamerica in contrast

The situation in Mesoamerica contrasts strongly: that area provided only two domesticable animals (the turkey and the dog), whose meat yield was far lower than that of cows, sheep, goats, and pigs; and corn, Mesoamerica’s staple grain, was, as I’ve already explained, difficult to domesticate and perhaps slow to develop.

Domestication animals

The Ancient 14 Species of Big Herbivorous Domestic Mammals

  1. Sheep.
  2. Goat.
  3. Cow, alias ox or cattle.
  4. Pig.
  5. Horse.
  6. Arabian (one-humped) camel.
  7. Bactrian (two-humped) camel:
  8. Llama and alpaca.
  9. Donkey.
  10. Reindeer.
  11. Water buffalo.
  12. Yak.
  13. Bali cattle.
  14. Mithan.

On other continents

South America had only one such ancestor, which gave rise to the llama and alpaca. North America, Australia, and sub-Saharan Africa had none at all. The lack of domestic mammals indigenous to sub-Saharan Africa is especially astonishing, since a main reason why tourists visit Africa today is to see its abundant and diverse wild mammals. In contrast, the wild ancestors of 13 of the Ancient Fourteen (including all of the Major Five) were confined to Eurasia.

Eurasian advantage

That’s because Eurasia is the world’s largest landmass, and it’s also very diverse ecologically, with habitats ranging from extensive tropical rain forests, through temperate forests, deserts, and marshes, to equally extensive tundras.

Other examples of similar species on other continents

Why were Eurasia’s horses domesticated, but not Africa’s zebras? Why Eurasia’s pigs, but not American peccaries or Africa’s three species of true wild pigs? Why Eurasia’s five species of wild cattle (aurochs, water buffalo, yak, gaur, banteng), but not the African buffalo or American bison?

Most animals can’t be domesticated

Humans and most animal species make an unhappy marriage, for one or more of many possible reasons: the animal’s diet, growth rate, mating habits, disposition, tendency to panic, and several distinct features of social organization… Eurasian peoples happened to inherit many more species of domesticable large wild mammalian herbivores than did peoples of the other continents.

Along Latitudes

East and West extension advantage

Localities distributed east and west of each other at the same latitude share exactly the same day length and its seasonal variations. To a lesser degree, they also tend to share similar diseases, regimes of temperature and rainfall, and habitats or biomes (types of vegetation).

Example Portugal to Japan

Portugal, northern Iran, and Japan, all located at about the same latitude but lying successively 4,000 miles east or west of each other, are more similar to each other in climate than each is to a location lying even a mere 1,000 miles due south… That’s part of the reason why Fertile Crescent domesticates spread west and east so rapidly: they were already well adapted to the climates of the regions to which they were spreading.

Diversity of where food comes from today

A typical American fast-food restaurant meal would include chicken (first domesticated in China) and potatoes (from the Andes) or corn (from Mexico), seasoned with black pepper (from India) and washed down with a cup of coffee (of Ethiopian origin).

Didn’t reach southern hemisphere

CONTRAST THE EASE of east–west diffusion in Eurasia with the difficulties of diffusion along Africa’s north–south axis. Most of the Fertile Crescent founder crops reached Egypt very quickly and then spread as far south as the cool highlands of Ethiopia, beyond which they didn’t spread… Not until the period A.D. 1–200, some 8,000 years after livestock were domesticated in the Fertile Crescent, did cattle, sheep, and goats finally reach South Africa.

Progress from agriculture to other technologies

Naturally, wheels and writing aren’t directly linked to latitude and day length in the way crops are. Instead, the links are indirect, especially via food production systems and their consequences… In general, societies that engaged in intense exchanges of crops, livestock, and technologies related to food production were more likely to become involved in other exchanges as well.

Diseases killed the natives

As tragic modern experience with Amazonian Indians and Pacific Islanders confirms, almost an entire tribelet may be wiped out by an epidemic brought by an outside visitor—because no one in the tribelet had any antibodies against the microbe.

Agriculture sustained higher human densities

WHY DID THE rise of agriculture launch the evolution of our crowd infectious diseases? One reason just mentioned is that agriculture sustains much higher human population densities than does the hunting-gathering lifestyle—on the average, 10 to 100 times higher.


Writing restricted to Eurasia

Of these, writing was traditionally the one most restricted geographically: until the expansions of Islam and of colonial Europeans, it was absent from Australia, Pacific islands, subequatorial Africa, and the whole New World except for a small part of Mesoamerica.

Advantages of writing

writing brings power to modern societies, by making it possible to transmit knowledge with far greater accuracy and in far greater quantity and detail, from more distant lands and more remote times… Writing marched together with weapons, microbes, and centralized political organization as a modern agent of conquest.

Writing also spread east-west and not north-south

The diffusion of writing from its sites of origin also raises important questions. Why, for instance, did it spread to Ethiopia and Arabia from the Fertile Crescent, but not to the Andes from Mexico?

Writing and political instituitions

Early writing served the needs of those political institutions (such as record keeping and royal propaganda), and the users were full-time bureaucrats nourished by stored food surpluses grown by food-producing peasants.

Writing and food production

Thus, food production and thousands of years of societal evolution following its adoption were as essential for the evolution of writing as for the evolution of microbes causing human epidemic diseases. Writing arose independently only in the Fertile Crescent, Mexico, and probably China precisely because those were the first areas where food production emerged in their respective hemispheres.


Early stages of inventions

Inventors often have to persist at their tinkering for a long time in the absence of public demand, because early models perform too poorly to be useful.

Invention depends on pre-requisites and many other inventors of that era

That “heroic theory of invention,” as it is termed, is encouraged by patent law, because an applicant for a patent must prove the novelty of the invention submitted. Inventors thereby have a financial incentive to denigrate or ignore previous work.

Example of light bulb, airplanes and telegraph

Edison’s famous “invention” of the incandescent light bulb on the night of October 21, 1879, improved on many other incandescent light bulbs patented by other inventors between 1841 and 1878. Similarly, the Wright brothers’ manned powered airplane was preceded by the manned unpowered gliders of Otto Lilienthal and the unmanned powered airplane of Samuel Langley; Samuel Morse’s telegraph was preceded by those of Joseph Henry, William Cooke, and Charles Wheatstone;

Would the world have the light bulb if not for Thomas Edison

But the question for our purposes is whether the broad pattern of world history would have been altered significantly if some genius inventor had not been born at a particular place and time. The answer is clear: there has never been any such person. All recognized famous inventors had capable predecessors and successors and made their improvements at a time when society was capable of using their product.

Technology needs cumulation and pre-requisites

My two main conclusions are that technology develops cumulatively, rather than in isolated heroic acts, and that it finds most of its uses after it has been invented, rather than being invented to meet a foreseen need.

Trial and error in inventions

All of that knowledge is acquired by observation and by trial and error. I see that process of “invention” going on whenever I take New Guineans to work with me in an area away from their homes. They constantly pick up unfamiliar things in the forest, tinker with them, and occasionally find them useful enough to bring home.

Acceptability of different inventions within the same society:

  1. Relative economic advantage compared with existing technology
  2. Social value and prestige, which can override economic benefit
  3. Compatibility with vested interests
  4. Regulation and legacy technologies
  5. Ease with which their advantages can be observed.

The best invention might not always win

THUS, WHEELS, DESIGNER JEANS, and QWERTY keyboards illustrate the varied reasons why the same society is not equally receptive to all inventions. Conversely, the same invention’s reception also varies greatly among contemporary societies.

Differences in receptivity among societies arise

  1. Life expectancy of the inventor
  2. High wages or labor scarcity now stimulate the search for technological solutions
  3. Patents and other property laws, protecting ownership rights of inventors, reward innovation in the modern West
  4. Modern capitalism is, and the ancient Roman economy was not, organized in a way that made it potentially rewarding to invest capital in technological development
  5. The strong individualism of U.S. society allows successful inventors to keep earnings for themselves
  6. Risk-taking behavior, essential for efforts at innovation
  7. The scientific outlook is a unique feature of post-Renaissance European society that has contributed heavily to its modern technological preeminence
  8. Tolerance of diverse views and of heretics fosters innovation, whereas a strongly traditional outlook
  9. Religions vary greatly in their relation to technological innovation
  10. War
  11. Centralized government
  12. Climate
  13. Resource abundance
  14. Debate over whether technology is stimulated by abundance or by scarcity of environmental resources.

Flow of invention varied in history

In the Middle Ages the flow of technology was overwhelmingly from Islam to Europe, rather than from Europe to Islam as it is today. Only after around A.D. 1500 did the net direction of flow begin to reverse… Innovation in China too fluctuated markedly with time. Until around A.D. 1450, China was technologically much more innovative and advanced than Europe, even more so than medieval Islam. The long list of Chinese inventions includes canal lock gates, cast iron, deep drilling, efficient animal harnesses, gunpowder, kites, magnetic compasses, movable type, paper, porcelain, printing (except for the Phaistos disk), sternpost rudders, and wheelbarrows.

Adoption of technology

Australians and New Guineans, separated from the Asian mainland by the Indonesian island chain, received only a trickle of inventions from Asia. The societies most accessible to receiving inventions by diffusion were those embedded in the major continents.

Edisons on different regions will respond differently

The New Guineans whom I know include potential Edisons. But they directed their ingenuity toward technological problems appropriate to their situations: the problems of surviving without any imported items in the New Guinea jungle, rather than the problem of inventing phonographs.

Groups: Band, tribe, chiefdom, and state

Meeting strangers without killing them

With the rise of chiefdoms around 7,500 years ago, people had to learn, for the first time in history, how to encounter strangers regularly without attempting to kill them.

Perenial question

For any ranked society, whether a chiefdom or a state, one thus has to ask: why do the commoners tolerate the transfer of the fruits of their hard labor to kleptocrats? This question, raised by political theorists from Plato to Marx, is raised anew by voters in every modern election.

How to gain support?

What should an elite do to gain popular support while still maintaining a more comfortable lifestyle than commoners? Kleptocrats throughout the ages have resorted to a mixture of four solutions: 1. Disarm the populace, and arm the elite. 2. Make the masses happy by redistributing much of the tribute received, in popular ways. 3. Use the monopoly of force to promote happiness, by maintaining public order and curbing violence. 4. The remaining way for kleptocrats to gain public support is to construct an ideology or religion justifying kleptocracy.

Benifits of instituitionalised religion

First, shared ideology or religion helps solve the problem of how unrelated individuals are to live together without killing each other — by providing them with a bond not based on kinship. Second, it gives people a motive, other than genetic self-interest, for sacrificing their lives on behalf of others.

States and cities rising

We thereby know that states arose around 3700 B.C. in Mesopotamia and around 300 B.C. in Mesoamerica, over 2,000 years ago in the Andes, China, and Southeast Asia, and over 1,000 years ago in West Africa… Cities differ from villages in their monumental public works, palaces of rulers, accumulation of capital from tribute or taxes, and concentration of people other than food producers.

Population number

the size of the regional population is the strongest single predictor of societal complexity. As we have seen, bands number a few dozen individuals, tribes a few hundred, chiefdoms a few thousand to a few tens of thousands, and states generally over about 50,000.

Advantages of societies which were able to solve conflict resolution

Societies with effective conflict resolution, sound decision making, and harmonious economic redistribution can develop better technology, concentrate their military power, seize larger and more productive territories, and crush autonomous smaller societies one by one.

How did smaller unit of tribes and chiefdoms get eliminated?

All these examples illustrate that wars, or threats of war, have played a key role in most, if not all, amalgamations of societies. But wars, even between mere bands, have been a constant fact of human history. Why is it, then, that they evidently began causing amalgamations of societies only within the past 13,000 years?

Population and complex agriculture

Australia case study

The highest population densities of Aborigines were in Australia’s wettest and most productive regions: the Murray-Darling river system of the Southeast, the eastern and northern coasts, and the southwestern corner. Those areas also came to support the densest populations of European settlers in modern Australia… WHY DID AUSTRALIA not develop metal tools, writing, and politically complex societies? A major reason is that Aborigines remained hunter-gatherers,


When finally encountered by Europeans in A.D. 1642, the Tasmanians had the simplest material culture of any people in the modern world. Like mainland Aborigines, they were hunter-gatherers without metal tools. But they also lacked many technologies and artifacts widespread on the mainland, including barbed spears, bone tools of any type, boomerangs, ground or polished stone tools, hafted stone tools, hooks, nets, pronged spears, traps, and the practices of catching and eating fish, sewing, and starting a fire.

Modern Australia with migration

Today, Australia is populated and governed by 20 million non-Aborigines, most of them of European descent, plus increasing numbers of Asians arriving since Australia abandoned its previous White Australia immigration policy in 1973.

Crops in Australia

Instead, they imported all of the elements from outside Australia: the livestock, all of the crops (except macadamia nuts), the metallurgical knowledge, the steam engines, the guns, the alphabet, the political institutions, even the germs. All these were the end products of 10,000 years of development in Eurasian environments.

Diversity in China

Of China’s 1.2 billion people, over 800 million speak Mandarin, the language with by far the largest number of native speakers in the world… In particular, North and South Chinese are genetically and physically rather different: North Chinese are most similar to Tibetans and Nepalese, while South Chinese are similar to Vietnamese and Filipinos.

Homogenization in China

These paradoxes hint that China too was once diverse, as all other populous nations still are. China differs only by having been unified much earlier. Its “Sinification” involved the drastic homogenization of a huge region in an ancient melting pot, the repopulation of tropical Southeast Asia, and the exertion of a massive influence on Japan, Korea, and possibly even India.

Who conquered who?

Why did Austronesian people, stemming ultimately from mainland China, colonize Java and the rest of Indonesia and replace the original inhabitants there, instead of Indonesians colonizing China and replacing the Chinese?


Millitary technology differences

Second, military technology was far more potent in Eurasia than in the Americas. European weapons were steel swords, lances, and daggers, supplemented by small firearms and artillery,

Water technology

Waterwheels appeared in Roman times and then proliferated, along with tidal mills and windmills, in the Middle Ages.

Naval technology

Many Eurasian societies developed large sailing ships, some of them capable of sailing against the wind and crossing the ocean, equipped with sextants, magnetic compasses, sternpost rudders, and cannons.

Examples around the world

Empires in Eurasia by 13th Century

By late medieval or Renaissance times, most of Eurasia had come under the rule of organized states. Among these, the Habsburg, Ottoman, and Chinese states, the Mogul state of India, and the Mongol state at its peak in the 13th century started out as large polyglot amalgamations formed by the conquest of other states.

Similarity among Abrahamic religions

Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Those religions arose among peoples speaking three closely related languages, termed Semitic languages: Aramaic (the language of Christ and the Apostles), Hebrew, and Arabic, respectively.

Japan and Britain similarities

At first, Japan might seem to be geographically very similar to Britain, both being large archipelagoes flanking the Eurasian continent on the east and the west respectively. But there are detailed differences that prove important: Japan is somewhat larger and more distant. Japan’s area of 146,000 square miles is half again greater than Britain’s, and nearly equal to California’s… Perhaps as a result, Britain throughout its history has been much more closely enmeshed with mainland Europe than has Japan with mainland Asia.

Japan’s agricuture

The lakes, rivers, Inland Sea, Sea of Japan to the west, and Pacific Ocean to the east teem with fish such as salmon, trout, tuna, sardines, mackerel, herring, and cod. Today, Japan is the largest catcher, importer, and consumer of fish in the world.

Islanders and uniqness of Japan

The prejudice that islanders are supposed to learn from superior continentals wasn’t the sole reason why record-breaking Japanese pottery caused such a shock. In addition, those first Japanese potters were clearly hunter-gatherers, and that also violated established views… But the Japanese environment is so productive that it was one of the few locations where people could settle down and make pottery while still living as hunter-gatherers.

Enimity through thousands of years

Like Arabs and Jews, Koreans and Japanese are peoples joined by blood, yet locked in traditional enmity. But enmity is mutually destructive, in East Asia and in the Middle East. Reluctant as Japanese and Koreans are to admit it, they are like twin brothers who shared their formative years.


the striking differences between the long-term histories of peoples of the different continents have been due not to innate differences in the peoples themselves but to differences in their environments.

Environmental differences

But mention of these environmental differences invites among historians the label “geographic determinism,” which raises hackles. The label seems to have unpleasant connotations, such as that human creativity counts for nothing, or that we humans are passive robots helplessly programmed by climate, fauna, and flora.

Inventive people in all cultures

All human societies contain inventive people. It’s just that some environments provide more starting materials, and more favorable conditions for utilizing inventions, than do other environments.

Changes through history in fertile crescent

Today, the expressions “Fertile Crescent” and “world leader in food production” are absurd. Large areas of the former Fertile Crescent are now desert, semidesert, steppe, or heavily eroded or salinized terrain unsuited for agriculture.

Fragmentation of Europe

In fact, precisely because Europe was fragmented, Columbus succeeded on his fifth try in persuading one of Europe’s hundreds of princes to sponsor him.

Europe vs China

These consequences of Europe’s disunity stand in sharp contrast to those of China’s unity. From time to time the Chinese court decided to halt other activities besides overseas navigation: China’s frequent unity and Europe’s perpetual disunity both have a long history… Hence the real problem in understanding China’s loss of political and technological preeminence to Europe is to understand China’s chronic unity and Europe’s chronic disunity.

Europe’s diversity is in its geography

The answer is again suggested by maps. Europe has a highly indented coastline, with five large peninsulas that approach islands in their isolation, and all of which evolved independent languages, ethnic groups, and governments: Greece, Italy, Iberia, Denmark, and Norway / Sweden. China’s coastline is much smoother, and only the nearby Korean Peninsula attained separate importance.

China’s unity is in it’s uniform connected geography

China’s heartland is bound together from east to west by two long navigable river systems in rich alluvial valleys (the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers), and it is joined from north to south by relatively easy connections between these two river systems… Once China was finally unified, in 221 B.C., no other independent state ever had a chance of arising and persisting for long in China. Although periods of disunity returned several times after 221 B.C., they always ended in reunification.

Why are only some countries richer?

Remification of 8000 years of history

Prospects for world dominance of sub-Saharan Africans, Aboriginal Australians, and Native Americans remain dim. The hand of history’s course at 8000 B.C. lies heavily on us.

Are economics only because of human instituitions?

SOME ECONOMISTS ATTRIBUTE NATIONAL WEALTH to what are called human institutions: i.e., the laws, codes of behavior, and operating principles of our societies, governments, and economies. Some human institutions are especially effective at motivating citizens to produce, and thereby at promoting national wealth.

Examples of differences in instituitions and not geography or people

The three cases most often cited are: the wealth of South Korea, which now enjoys First World living standards, compared to the extreme backwardness of North Korea; the wealth of the former West Germany, compared to the lower economic level of the former East Germany persisting to some extent even today, more than 25 years after the fall of the German Wall; and the contrast, on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, between Haiti in the west, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and the Dominican Republic in the east,

What do instituitions control?

Without attempting to rank them in order of importance, but just listing them alphabetically, they include: control of inflation, educational opportunities, effectiveness of government, enforcement of contracts, freedom from trade barriers, incentives and opportunities for investment of capital, lack of corruption, low risk of assassination, open currency exchange, protection of private property rights, rule of law, and unimpeded flow of capital.

Only instituitions cannot be the answer to a complex system and intricate history

But many economists then go further, by falling into one of the commonest pitfalls awaiting anyone who attempts to explain any complex system: taking a single factor that does explain part of the results, and claiming that it explains all of the results.

Good instituitions cannot pop up randomly either

If good institutions can pop up anywhere at random, why is it so difficult to transmit them to countries that currently don’t have them? Why aren’t the poorest and the richest countries randomly scattered over all of the continents, instead of the richest countries actually being clustered in Western Europe and North America, and the poorest ones in Africa and South America?

Cause of complex institutions is agriculture

the most-ultimate cause of complex institutions is agriculture, and the next-ultimate cause is the densely populated sedentary societies and storable food surpluses resulting from agriculture.

Why are some countries richer than others?

IN SHORT, SOME COUNTRIES are much richer than are other countries. The reasons why are multiple and complicated. If you insist on a simple answer to this important question, you’ll have to find some place in the universe to inhabit other than our planet Earth, where life is really complicated.