A Historical Perspective of the Atlantic’s Evolution

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In the last two centuries, several key moments have defined the Atlantic
Basin’s history that help us understand its present. This chapter endeavours
to present a comprehensive overview of this evolution, pointing
out key events that set up the historical links that still play a role in
the Atlantic. In the first section, following a chronological approach, it
shows how the American and the French Revolutions were milestones
in the balance of power in this area. Since then, a division between Europe,
the Americas and Africa has evolved beyond the common historical,
cultural and linguistic ground that composes the Atlantic. The second
section attempts to show how human flows, economic exchanges
and energy resources in the Atlantic remain the chief common drivers
shaping the division of the Atlantic, contributing, paradoxically, to an
interdependent evolution of the basin even during periods of political
separation. Finally, the third section focuses on the 20th century, which
is marked by several attempts at rapprochement between the various
sides of the Atlantic. Following the rise of the United States as hegemonic
power, this process led to a greater closeness between both
sides of the North Atlantic, yet failed to yield results due to the gradual
emergence of new powers in the South Atlantic. The Atlantic is still a
heterogeneous and divided region, mostly due to geopolitical and ideological
factors. However, its multilateral tradition and the development
of different regional integration schemes might help to foster cooperation
between the various shores.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAtlantic future - Shaping a new hemisphere for the 21st century
Subtitle of host publicationAfrica, Europe and the Americas
EditorsJordi Bacaria, Laia Tarragona
Place of PublicationBarcelona
PublisherCIBOD - Barcelona Centre for International Affairs
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)978-84-92511-46-4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016


  • Atlantic
  • Atlantic Future
  • United States


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