The Role of Chemistry in History

The Role of Chemistry in History header image 2

Quinine affects History

April 17th, 2008 · No Comments ·

Intro | Chemistry | Origin | Affects History | History affects  | Poor Countries | Undesired Effects  | Substitutes | Conclusion

Soldiers taking daily dose of quinine

Soldiers taking daily dose of quinine


  • Without quinine, the colonization of many African and Asian countries would not have been possible.

  • Malaria is very common in these areas and therefore European powers relied heavily on their supplies of quinine to keep them under control.

Gin and Tonic:

  • Gin and Tonic was introduced by the Birtish East India Company in India, in the 18th century.

  • Tonic water contains quinine and is used to prevent malaria.

  • Because tonic water was very bitter, gin was added to make the water more palatable.

  • This has become and still is a popular drink

Second World War:

  • The discovery of the source of quinine, the Cinchona tree, has created very profitable commerce for countries like Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru and Colombia. They banned the export of the tree in order to monopolize the commerce.

  • Species of the tree were eventually smuggled out. In 1861, the Dutch bought a pound of the species known as Cinchona Ledgeriana from an Australian trader named Charles Ledger.

  • The species turned to be the most most productive with quinine level as high as 13% compared to the usual 3%. C. Ledgeriana was cultivated in Java.

  • In 1940, the quinine molecule tipped the scale of the war as Germany attacked the Netherlands to confiscate the entire European stock of quinine.

Tags: Quinine