Following the European colonisation of North Africa and Asia Minor, the Mediterranean shores and islands were more closely connected than ever before through steamships, railways and telegraph wires. However, that did not result in the desired peace between Orient and Occident.
Marseille played a crucial role
The harbour town Marseille in the south of France played a crucial role in Algeria's conquest by the French. Thanks to its location directly by the Mediterranean Sea, local merchants were able to quickly establish a monopoly for the sea trade between these two countries. In his capacity as a historian, junior professor Manuel Borutta investigated the Mediterranean ties between France and Algeria during the colonisation period and he reports his findings in the new RUBIN edition.
Steamships conquer the seas
The trade between Marseille and Algiers was expedited and intensified as sailing vessels were gradually replaced by the then emerging steamships. "Sailing ship voyages were difficult to predict. The crossing could take several days or even weeks, depending on wind and weather. To the merchants, this was of course a great disadvantage. It wasn't until steamships were deployed that the maritime trade in the Mediterranean became quick and projectable. By 1841, the crossing took only two days and was carried out without a stopover three times a month in both directions," as Borutta tells us.
Chevalier: advocate of modern technologies
One of the first people who supported the expansion of traffic infrastructure was economist Michel Chevalier. Modern means of transport and communication were supposed to compensate for the spatial distances within Europe and the Mediterranean region, thus bringing the conflict between Orient and Occident to an end. As we know today, that objective remained unattained. Still, Chevalier was proved right in one respect: the new means of transport has reduced the Mediterranean Sea from a gigantic ocean between continents to a banal inland lake in Europe -- at least as far as affluent travellers are concerned.
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