19th century

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The 19th century (1801–1900) was a period in history marked by the collapse of the Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Holy Roman and Mughal empires. This paved the way for the growing influence of the British Empire, the German Empire and the United States, spurring military conflicts but also advances in science and exploration.

After the defeat of the French Empire and its allies in the Napoleonic Wars, the British Empire became the world's leading power, controlling one quarter of the world's population and one fifth of the total land area. It enforced a Pax Britannica, encouraged trade, and battled rampant piracy. The 19th century was an era of invention and discovery, with significant developments in the fields of mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, electricity, and metallurgy that lay the groundwork for the technological advances of the 20th century.[1] The Industrial Revolution began in Europe.[2] The Victorian era was notorious for the employment of young children in factories and mines.[3]

Advances in medicine and the understanding of human anatomy and disease prevention took place in the 19th century, and were partly responsible for rapidly accelerating population growth in the western world. Europe's population doubled during the 19th century, from roughly 200 million to more than 400 million.[4] The introduction of railroads provided the first major advancement in land transportation for centuries, changing the way people lived and obtained goods, and fueling major urbanization movements in countries across the globe. Numerous cities worldwide surpassed populations of a million or more during this century. London was transformed into the world's largest city and capital of the British Empire. Its population expanded from 1 million in 1800 to 6.7 million a century later. The last remaining undiscovered landmasses of Earth, including vast expanses of interior Africa and Asia, were discovered during this century, and with the exception of the extreme zones of the Arctic and Antarctic, accurate and detailed maps of the globe were available by the 1890s. Liberalism became the preeminent reform movement in Europe.[5]

Slavery was greatly reduced around the world. Following a successful slave revolt in Haiti, Britain forced the Barbary pirates to halt their practice of kidnapping and enslaving Europeans, banned slavery throughout its domain, and charged its navy with ending the global slave trade.[6] Britain abolished slavery in 1834, America's 13th Amendment following their Civil War abolished slavery there in 1865, and in Brazil slavery was abolished in 1888 (see Abolitionism). Similarly, serfdom was abolished in Russia.

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