Why didn’t the Ottoman Empire colonize the Americas? Mostly, it was geography and a confidence that it wouldn’t change the balance of power.” SOURCE: History Matters on YouTube

I do enjoy counterfactual history questions and to imagine how the world would be different is something did (or didn’t) happen.  These “what ifs” are usually a thought exercise in imaginary worlds that often hinge on a single point that might be lead to a pivotal shift in the unfolding of events. For example, “What if Hitler was assassinated before WWII?” or “What if Columbus never crossed the Atlantic?” The question about the Ottoman Empire is different because in the 21st century, it seems apparent that colonization would be the answer for every power seeking to maintain their power in the 16th-18th centuries. This question is getting us to understand the geographic realities and political factors in a new historical context. The Ottoman Empire, because of its distinct geographic context, had a great set of land options available to them, and a more constrained set of maritime resources for the open seas.

This question helps us explore the geographic factors that led to powerful empires over the centuries.  Geographically and historically, the importance of certain resources might have been incredibly important, but not so in a different era or in a different regional context (e.g.-naval power, overland networks, gold, oil, or iron deposits). So what are the three most important reasons why the Ottoman Empire didn’t colonize in the Americas?

TAGS: empire, Turkey, historical.