The Global Network

The Global Network

Globalization is the connection of different parts of the world. Globalization results in the expansion of international cultural, economic, and political activities.


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Geography, Human Geography, Social Studies, World History

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Globalization means connecting different parts of the world. This leads to more international cultural, economic and political activities. As people, ideas, knowledge and goods move around the globe, the experiences of people around the world become more similar.

Globalization In History

Globalization has a long history. For example, ancient Greek culture spread across much of Asia, Africa and Europe thousands of years ago.

Another example is the Silk Road, a trade route between China and the Mediterranean Sea. The Silk Road allowed the exchange of ideas and knowledge, along with silk, spices and other treasures from the East.

When Europeans began establishing colonies overseas, globalization grew. Many early-European explorers brought the Christian religion to the regions they visited. Christianity spread from Europe to Latin America through Christian missionaries working with the local communities.

Globalization spread at a faster pace in the 1800s with the Industrial Revolution, as mechanical mills and factories became more common. Many companies used raw materials from distant lands. They also sold their goods in other countries.

Britain's colony in India, for example, supplied cotton to British merchants and traders. Madras, a light cotton cloth, was made in the city of Madras, now called Chennai. Eventually, Indians started supplying only the raw cotton, while factories in England wove the cloth. British manufacturers could then sell their finished goods to buyers all over the world.

Globalization sped up even more in the 1900s with air travel, free trade and the Internet.


Modern communication has played a large role in cultural globalization. Today, news and information zip instantly around the world on the Internet. People can read information about foreign countries as easily as they read about their local news.

About 70 percent of the people in the world now use cellphones. A farmer in Nigeria can easily talk to his cousin who moved to New York City, New York. The success of global news networks like CNN has also helped globalization. People all over the world can see the same news 24 hours a day.


International travel has also helped globalization. Each year, millions of people move from one country to another in search of work. Sometimes, these migrant workers travel a short distance, like between Mexico and the United States. Sometimes, they travel many thousands of miles to find better-paying jobs.

People do not travel just for work, of course, but also for tourism. Globalization has influenced trade, taste and culture by exposing travelers to new ideas about food, goods and politics.

Popular Culture

Popular culture has also become more globalized. People in the United States enjoy listening to South African music and reading Japanese comic books, while American soap operas are popular in Israel.

Clothing styles have also become more uniform as a result of globalization. National and regional costumes have become rarer as globalization has increased. There has also been an exchange of foods across the globe. People in England eat Indian curry, while people in Peru enjoy Japanese sushi. Meanwhile, American fast-food chains have become common throughout the world. McDonald's has become a symbol of globalization, with more than 31,000 restaurants in 118 countries. And people all across the world are eating more meat and sugary foods, like those sold in fast-food restaurants.


The international economy has also become more globalized. International trade is very important to the economies of most countries around the world. American software companies, like Microsoft, Apple and Google, make a great deal of money from buyers around the world. The economy of the country of Saudi Arabia almost completely depends on selling oil.

To increase trade, many countries have made free-trade agreements with other countries. Under free-trade agreements, countries agree to remove trade barriers. For example, they may stop charging taxes, or money, when people sell goods to other countries.

Economic globalization has allowed many corporations based in the West to move factories and jobs to poorer countries. This process is called outsourcing. The corporation can pay lower wages because poorer countries do not have as many services. In these countries, there might also be fewer laws protecting the environment and workers' safety. This also lowers costs for the corporation and often allows them to sell cheaper goods.

Economic markets have become global. This means that people and organizations put their money in companies and banks all over the globe. Because of this, if a big bank or corporation does poorly, it will have consequences globally. This is what happened with the financial crisis that began in the United States in 2006 and quickly spread around the world.


Countries have also become more connected politically. Many problems facing the world today cross national borders. Countries must work together to solve them. For example, efforts to fight crime and deal with global climate change involve many different countries. Climate change is the heating of the planet due to gases from cars and factories.

Globalization has also had other good consequences. For example, it has made advanced medicines more easily and widely available. Jobs available through globalization have lifted many people out of poverty.

However, not everyone says that globalization is good. Some people worry that American culture will destroy local cultures around the world. They fear that everyone will end up eating hamburgers and watching Hollywood movies.

People also blame free trade for unfair working conditions. They say that outsourcing has caused wealthy countries to lose too many jobs. But supporters of globalization say that factory workers in poor countries are making much better wages. They argue that free trade has lowered prices in wealthier countries and has improved the economy of poorer countries. They say globalization is a win for everyone, in the long run.

Fast Fact

Battle in Seattle
The 1999 meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) was held in Seattle, Washington, United States. This meeting was protested by thousands of people opposed to globalization. The protests turned violent. Hundreds of people were arrested. Many were injured in confrontations with police. Many buildings were damaged. The incident is sometimes called "the Battle in Seattle."

Fast Fact

Powerful Peppers
Food has long been an important part of globalization. Today, foods in Korea and many parts of China are often spicy. They get their spice from chili peppers. This was not the case before the 1600s. The fiery chili pepper is native to the Western Hemisphere. Christopher Columbus first brought chilies to Europe in 1493, and from there they spread across Asia.

Media Credits

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Diane Boudreau
Melissa McDaniel
Santani Teng
Erin Sprout
Hilary Costa
Hilary Hall
Jeff Hunt
Tara Ramroop
Kim Rutledge
Mary Crooks, National Geographic Society
Tim Gunther
Jeannie Evers, Emdash Editing, Emdash Editing
Kara West
Educator Reviewer
Nancy Wynne
National Geographic Society
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

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