This is the political map of Europe in 1800
and the world map
And here is Europe in 1919:
and the world map:
Something changed in 100 years?
Well, the entire world was changed. A lot of monarchies and empires fell and a lot of new countries appeared – Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, etc in Europe. And many new countries around the world, including the US in its form! Big changes in 100 years, right?
Now, here is Europe today:
and the world:
Big changes in 100 years?
Well, yes – you can see the European Union, there is no USSR, many new countries appeared in Africa and Middle East, etc.
Now, you can see big changes in every 100 years – do you know what the situation would be in the next century?
I guess no one knows.
Maybe there will be no country by 2100, but a one world government?
There are three big determinants: population, how productive your citizens are, and will your country remain intact.
The first depends strongly on your population. More so as population growth in most places is slowing towards a rate of zero.
The second depends on how long you’ve been growing, and whether your cultures institutions support growth. By then, most countries will have been growing for a while. And better institutions seem to be something many cultures have been willing to choose (think East Asia).
Put those two together, and India will be the largest, China second, and the U.S. probably third. America could be passed by some other countries with large populations (Pakistan, Brazil, Nigeria, for example) but I think the American lead is too big. In the long-run, net immigration and Americans having more kids than other rich countries will win out.
The third point is tougher. Will India and China stick together? America tried that, and I don’t see it happening again.
I think a lot of parts will peal off of China. But I don’t think they’re large parts, so China’s population will stay quite large. There might be some south/north split, and that would clearly make a difference. That seems unlikely.
I would not be at all surprised if India fractured a bit. So many changes are coming their way from having a large economy that no one will know how to react.
So there you have it: India, China, America, with a possible flip-flop in the first two.
A country is just a recent concept mainly developed after 1918
Historically the main political tool used to organise the land was the Empire, at the beginning empires were limited to powerful cities protected by great walls from the tribes migrating into the surronding lands.
Then empires extented their control and projected power to much distant land, eventually some imperial powers were in competition for intermediary lands ( called Marshes )
Empires were divided, others cooperated, others have been challenged with modernisation and were unable to project power anymore so they just vanished, others had overtly conflictual interests that led to millenium long war
The treaty of Tordesillas divided the world in two, the west, spanish, and the east, portuguese
After the franco english confrontation that led to the independence of America, a doctrine later institutionalized by Monroe, rationalized the two hemispheres division, the Western hemisphere composed of north and south american continents will be under Washington supervision and the Eastern hemisphere encompassing all Europe, Asia and Africa continents will be under supervision of the main european powers, later called the colonial powers
As recently as 1910 the eastern hemisphere was still led by empires, most famous being the french empire, Britain, the dual germanic empires Austria and Prussia, the Russian empire, the Ottoman empire labelled Sick Man of Europe, the Japanese empire, the Dutch empire in Indonesia, the Chinese empire although profoundly in decay, some rests of the Portuguese and Spanish empires and a huge islamic zone stretching from Morocco to Indonesia divided between Persian, Turks and Turko mongols divided into Khanate and Sultanate
The reorganisation made in Paris after WW I started with the dismantlement of the Germanic, Austrian and Ottoman empires and a reorganisation of the British Rajwhich were broken into economic entities called Nations, transnational institutions were created, most famous being the open and permanent diplomatic infrastructure called the League of Nations but they organized also large scale surveillance and established the control of human migration ( passport, visa,ID, custom control )
WW II precipited events, there is now almost 200 nations into the United Nations and America launch others transnational entities to help the international trade and to ease global finance ( OECD and IMF )
But this is only half of the story, Britain demonstrated that empires can be organized around water, rivers, sea, oceans that are the real trading lanes, harbors the real capital and straits ( Oresun, Dover, Gibraltar, Ormuz, Suez, Mallaca ) and Isles ( Malta, Cyprus ) the real strategic spots to protect.
Planes and stratospheric shuttles confirm the trend, human genius is less and less constrained by the tyranny of the land owners and warlords, even geography does not rule anymore, Switzerland recently opened an efficient tunnel breaking the Mont Blanc Massif obstacle
History has been written around the Land, the future will be written around the Water, nations inherited from the Land competition is now meaningless
Humanity will be divided into civilizations, but trading will be done around rivers, watersheds and seas
Here are the main watersheds in Europe
We can expect a creation of a danubian entity, an integration of the baltic states with the Dniepr watershed, and a breakup of the complex russian system
Concerning Europe the most possible scenario is a Greater Europe encompassing all hinterland of the Baltic, Northand Mediterranean sea
EU is already a rich entity but inside this entity some are blessed by the geography ( flat land, abondant rivers and lot of renewables energy ), the group Belgium, Netherland, Switzerland and Germany is still dominating the world economy and it is only a start
I’m surprised that everyone’s mentioning China and India. I know population counts a lot in the economy but China and India are the most populous now.
A hundred years is a lot. Just look at the technological innovations and the steady shifting in the world maps that have taken place in the last century. Empires were broken down, colonies gained independence, China rose to prominence…a lot has gone down.
Now imagine a hundred years later taking history into account. There are lots of possibilities. Endless, really. A little event could radically change the world order.
Personally I have my money on African nation. Africa has the numbers, diversity , resources, market- it’s all there. In a hundred years, an African state(s) might get leaders who care about the nations that were thrust upon them by the colonisers, stand up to the West and uplift his people.
After that, it’s easy to imagine other African countries going the same way or the aforementioned state conquering neighbouring nations or just persuading them to form some union. God knows Africa has too many countries, each with it’s own leeches( politicians).
This could happen sooner than you think.
The United States
China has picked the low-hanging fruit. It will be difficult for them to continue the growth of recent decades. They have also entered the ‘Middle Income Trap’, but arrogantly are in denial, claiming that the rules of economics that apply to everybody else don’t apply to them.
Unless they get over this attitude, they will never fully realise their potential.
Europe is far too socialist and fragmented, and protectionist to take the lead. Russia is going backwards, and India, the last possible contender, has far too much ground to make up and intractable problems to solve. (Germany and Japan are just not big enough, same applies to UK. Brazil and Indonesia have, like India, too many institutional problems that are not easily resolved. )
You are asking for a forecast 83 years ahead, to give a deterministic answer, it will be the world economy, assuming we might have inhabitants in other part of space who will be still young.
On the other hand, how technology is increasing the entropy of human lives existential demands, those who are around may be in particle state and economy may not be the way things work, then science would have reached its culmination of maintaining intelligence just by energy available from sun light.