The high heel shoe has its roots in ancient times. Depictions from Ancient Egypt show both men and women wearing the style of shoe. However, since art work back then only displayed important events it is unknown whether high heels were for ceremonial purposes only or were part of upper class fashion.
In Europe and parts of "Eurasia" the high heel came and went as the preferred horse riding boot. In the 1400s the French began adopting it as a fashion statement. Men would wear the "court shoe" and a sort of arms race began as everyone tried to have the highest yet most uncomfortable shoe. Future French Queen Catherine de Medici started the fashion craze for women by showing that not only do women look in heels but it also brings them to the height of men.
High heels were popular in Europe and the colonies until the era of revolutions (early to mid 1800s). High heels were associated with the monarchies and conservative ways. Once politics settled done high heels made comebacks in cycles.
Imperialism and the various waves of globalization have brought high heels all over the world. Japanese women would wear high heels before World War II, but only during functions where they dressed as Westerners. Koreans therefore hated high heels (like everything else which was associated with the Japanese); however, the fetish market brought the shoe "through the back door." Today high heels are becoming common almost everywhere. A primary exception is more traditional Muslim countries were there are still taboos against women's beauty in public.