In terms of production and wealth, not to mention culture, the differences between the major pre-industrial regions were, by modern standards, remarkably small; say between 1 and 1.8. Indeed a recent estimate calculates that between 1750 and 1800 the per capita gross national product in what are today known as the ‘developed countries’ was substantially the same as in what is now known as the ‘Third World’, though this is probably due to the enormous size and relative weight of the Chinese Empire (with about a third of the world’s population), whose average standard of living may at that stage have actually been superior to that of Europeans.3 In the eighteenth century Europeans would have found the Celestial Empire a very strange place indeed, but no intelligent observer would have regarded it in any sense as an inferior economy and civilization to Europe’s, still less as a ‘backward’ country. But in the nineteenth century the gap between the western countries, base of the economic revolution which was transforming the world, and the rest widened, at first slowly, later with increasing rapidity. By 1880 (according to the same calculation) the per capita income in the ‘developed’ world was about double that in the ‘Third World’, by 1913 it was to be over three times as high, and widening. By 1950 (to dramatize the process) the difference was between 1 and 5, by 1970 between 1 and 7. Moreover, the gap between the ‘Third World’ and the really developed parts of the ‘developed’ world, i.e. the industrialized countries, began earlier and widened even more dramatically. The per capita share of the GNP was already almost twice that in the ‘Third World’ in 1830, about seven times as high in 1913.