chapter  8
27 Pages

DEVELOPING THE MARITIME CAPABILITY

Some Developing Countries have a long and significant maritime trading tradition. Over several millenia, India, with its 5,400-km coastline, has had longdistance seaborne trade westwards with the Red Sea, Egypt and East African coast and eastwards with Indonesia and Indo-China. The dhow trade of the Indian Ocean was well established long before the European navigators found their way into the area in the fifteenth century and Chinese archaeology has established the existence of a shipbuilding technology to sophisticated standards as far back as the Ch’in dynasty of 200 BC. Chinese sea-going junks ‘incorporated maritime innovations like the watertight compartment, balanced rudder and spoon-shaped stern at a time when Westerners were still hugging coastlines in open longboats’ (Maitland, 1981) and may well have known the Cape of Good Hope 1,500 years before the Europeans. Over a similar time span the Malayo-Polynesian peoples developed a strong seafaring tradition and as in the case of the Chinese junks, the great variety of ‘prahus’, the Indonesian generic ship type, suggests very long periods of evolution (Horridge, 1986) and long-distance, regular trade.