Barring a few places in the erstwhile USSR, for which communism and its fall had a major role to play, countries with a predominantly white population, collectively called "The West" are the most economically (and socially?) well to do ones in the modern world.

Going back a few centuries, it was the Europeans that populated the "new world". Why not people of other regions? Because Europeans had the most resources to do so? But some medieval Asian countries were rich too. Asian, African and South american countries were the ruled upon, not the rulers. Why were the Europeans the colonists, not these other countries? Even if they weren't, why couldn't they keep the invaders out effectively? These countries actually had a very rich and ancient history, with access to considerable engineering and tech for those times. Trade flourished too, think about the silk route and the extensive reach of the Indian subcontinent. But they still did not/do not thrive as much as the Europeans.

I know race had no part to play in this, but why the coincidence? Was it the climate? the geography? The religion? Invention of the steam engine and the following industrial boom? (But colonisation started before that era)

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    A very well known and interesting book on the topic is "Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies" by Jared Diamond. – k4ppa Mar 31 '17 at 7:26
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    There's also the possibilty of temporal bias, i.e. you're looking at the world at a point where Caucasian races have recently been dominant. If you roll back 1000-1500 years, you'd be asking why Middle Eastern or Asian populations were ahead. – Steve Bird Mar 31 '17 at 7:34
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    @SteveBird That does not challenge the validity of the question, because the OP is not saying "why were always European countries more advanced" but "why European countries are more advanced now". The fact that "world dominance" (for lack of a better term) changes does not exclude that, for each case, there is a reason for the change. – SJuan76 Mar 31 '17 at 8:59
  • @SteveBird Exactly, Asian populations were advanced at one point in time. It still didn't turn out well for them. I'm interested to know why. – insanity Mar 31 '17 at 9:36
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    @k4ppa Wow, this book seems to address precisely my thought process! Thank you! – insanity Mar 31 '17 at 9:59

This is the question of modern world history. In fact it is a huge set of questions on which a lot has been written. The Wikipedia article on Great Divergence gives a pretty good summary of some important work on the topic. I won't try to cover everything in there, but I will elaborate on a couple of key points that come to mind based on the original question.

First, we should keep in mind that Europe c. 1450 was not an especially advanced area at all. With the Dark Ages were coming to an end, Europe was perhaps a flourishing civilization, but not the only one. To its east, the Ottoman Empire was at the height of its power and expanding in Europe's direction. (The relevance of the Ottoman-European rivalry to our question has been getting more attention thanks to a recent book, How The West Came To Rule.) It was basically out of desperation to get around the Ottomans that Portuguese sailors began to make some breakthroughs in navigation. This gave them increased maritime contact with Africa, but despite their relatively advanced weaponry and navigation skills, the Portugese were not immediately able to dominate or conquer most of the peoples they found there.

Second, as the question already begins to address, Europe's ascent in the following centuries would not have been possible without the colonization of the Americas. Arguably the most important consequence of European conquest of the Americas was the massive influx of silver from South American mines under Spanish control. This was a central factor in the price revolution that shaped Europe's commercial development, and also in the course of relations between Europe and China. Among the other key reasons that European contact with the Americas mattered so much, aside from the silver, was the triangular trade that came to encompass the Atlantic.

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Without being bogged down by multiple stipulations in history I'll attempt to answer this as simply as possible. Most likely Europe advanced rapidly due to mercantilism and the free flow of ideas into Europe due to closer relationships with other cultures from trading. We borrowed the great ideas and inventions of the world then made them our own or developed them much further.

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    This answer is too generic. Other cultures had lots of trade, too, at the same time. In fact as Brian Z's answer tells, in the 1400s European trade with the Far East was cut by the Ottoman Empire. – SJuan76 Apr 1 '17 at 10:25

This question is discussed –though not succinctly- in Jacques Barzun’s From Dawn to Decadence. It largely started with an idealized revival of Greek philosophy. But it wasn’t an event but rather a multistep process.

The course to study is western Civilization, though I've heard that it's gone extinct.

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    This could do with some expansion for those readers not familiar with the mentioned text. – KillingTime Mar 31 '17 at 18:23

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