It's a little known fact that the POOREST countries in the world were the ones who created the greatest painting master-pieces. That is because richer countries could afford to weave tapestries or run jousting tournaments instead, and found paintings to be inferior in comparison.
The colonization of North America wasn't dominated by navel powers such as England, but by Portugal, who rose to be the most expansive colonial empire to ever exist. That is due to their superior geography getting them early access to the Azores, which meant they could colonize the new world decades before anyone else.
Despite common sense, African and native American tribes could settle no new territory until the arrival of the Europeans. The one sole exception was the Incan Empire, due to their possession of a coastal trade centre.
The limiting factor in how much infrastructure a country can build is not MONEY, as that's easy to get. Government officials are by far the more valuable commodity! It it a common occurrence to see a wealthy country who cannot use its money on anything because they do not have enough magistrates to mix into the cement foundation for the buildings.
The most technologically advanced country in the ancient world was in fact the nation of Aachen, a tiny member state of the Holy Roman Empire. They existed for several hundred years during which they did absolutely nothing of value, before being annexed by the Austrian Empire.