What is Globalization? A Beginner’s Guide

Globe sitting on a world map main

Globalization is the interaction and combination of a wider whole of people, companies, and governments. First developing in the age of ancient empires, modern developments sped up and expanded the interrelated worldwide web involved.


“Globalization” is a word used to describe the connection between the world’s economies, cultures, and populations.  It is a worldwide (global) process brought about by trade in goods and services, technology, and flows of investment, people, and information. 

Globalization first arose in ancient times, with trade of not only goods but also culture, including language and philosophical and religious beliefs.  


Trade is a basic means of advancing globalization such as the Silk Road, ancient trade routes used to carry silk and other goods from China to the West.  Trade involves exports (items produced that are sold to other countries) and imports (items obtained from other countries). 

Developments that improved transportation, communication (it once could take months to deliver a message that now is sent in an instant) and technology (including mass production of goods) greatly increased trade over the centuries. 

The result: more goods spread more quickly.   

Tariffs, taxes on imported goods, is both a common source of revenue and a means to protect domestic (home) based industries from foreign competition.  

“Protectionism” might not be helpful overall, but removing restrictions (free trade) is perhaps more helpful for everyone in the long run.  

This can result in “free trade agreements,” treaties (agreements between nations) setting forth rules that promise not to put barriers in place. 

This can include multiple nations; an agreement among more than two parties is known as a “multilateral” agreement.    

World Organizations 

From the Roman Empire to more modern empires created by European powers in the Americas, Latin America, Africa, and Asia, the world was an interconnected place. 

Major developments arose after World War II, including the creation of the United Nations and other organizations representing nations throughout the world.  Modern communication and transportation as well as agreements in a significant way promoting a peaceful world helped the process.

Various organizations were formed to promote smooth-running globalization. 

An interconnected world made it more important to protect world health, the medieval bubonic plague showing the dangers of spreading disease. The World Health Organization was created for this purpose. 

Likewise, the World Trade Organization was formed to regulate trade among nations. And, the International Monetary Fund has the job of regulating worldwide economic security.  

European Unity 

An individual nation is concerned about its gross national product (GNP), the estimated value of a nation’s goods and services.  But, globalization shows that a “global national product” very well is important for each nation as well.  

This has resulted in regional agreements and organizations developing among nearby nations, a prime example being the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

After World War II, over time, the nations of Europe formed a political and economic organization (European Union), individual nations with one united market (basic currency: euro), and a system of laws.  

The United Kingdom recently agreed to remove itself from this agreement (“Brexit” — British exit).  The complexities and difficulties involved show the results of globalization in today’s world.

Teach and Thrive

A Bronx, NY veteran high school social studies teacher who has learned most of what she has learned through trial and error and error and error.... and wants to save others that pain.