World War II Database Japanese troops in Manchuria, January 1932

Manchuria: a Key Area

SCATTERED around the world are certain territories, some large, some small, that have been deeply significant in the world's history and have profoundly influenced the lives of its people. A happy combination of circumstances has in each case brought the right people at the right time to the right place to develop its natural resources and to exploit its geographic advantages. From the center of power thus created have spread waves of influence to affect the whole surrounding area and in some instances the entire world. The Nile Valley was in its time one such area, Greece was another, and Rome a third. In modern times, England has been such a center. Many and varied have been the forces responsible for the rise to power and significance of the various areas. Each, however, has been inhabited by a vigorous people, each has been situated favorably to enjoy wide contacts and each has been endowed with natural resources of the type esteemed at the time to be of supreme value to the world. In some instances, the people themselves seem to have been the most important factor, as in the case of the Greeks. In others, it was the resources, as in the Nile where a rich soil and an adequate water supply permitted the production of a large surplus food supply. In still others it was the geographic position of the country that permitted the inhabitants to act as middle men in world trade, as did Venice in the Middle Ages, and earlier, King Solomon who promoted trade and took a profit from his position on the isthmus between the mutually antagonistic Arabs, who on the one hand ranged both sea and land to the Far East, and the Mediterranean people whose small ships sailed to the west and north even to the Baltic. Solomon was a wise man, not because he collected a thousand wives and built a famous temple, but because he recognized and exploited the advantages of his

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