Define the territorial extent of the Mongol empire at its largest.  How did this affect intercultural exchange?

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The Mongol Empire was the largest land based empire in human history, stretching from East Asia and China all the way into Eastern Europe and the Islamic world. As one could imagine, bringing such a vast geographic expanse under Mongol control had tremendous implications for global trade and cultural exchange.

The Mongol Empire did a lot to revive and strengthen commercial connections along the silk road. Indeed, the Mongols tended to see the benefit for supporting mercantile activity, and recognized the importance of merchants to economic life. They guaranteed security for merchants and traders within their empire, and brooked little tolerance for pirates or thieves. In addition you should consider the impact of the Mongolian conquests themselves. If we were to compare two hypothetical political contexts—one which is fragmented, and the other which has been united under a single ruling authority—generally speaking, one might expect to find more economic and commercial vitality in the second context than in the first (although this should not be understood as an absolute rule). This is because each of these rulers will add new rules and restrictions and create additional opportunities for coercion or exploitation upon the merchants passing through, all while being unable to guarantee the safety of travelers beyond their borders. With these factors in mind, from the perspective of stability alone, in bringing such vast spans of territory under their control, it should not be surprising that after the conquests, the Pax Mongolica resulted in a period of increased global trade and interaction.

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At it's zenith, the Mongol Empire encompassed a substantial portion of the Eurasian landmass, including China, the Middle East, the Balkans, and a substantial portion of Russia and Siberia. Japan, India, and Indochina were not part of the Empire. A planned invasion of Japan failed when a huge Mongol fleet, the largest until World War II, was destroyed by a typhoon, which the Japanese called a "divine wind,' or Kamakaze.Because the Mongols were horsemen from the steppes, their method of warfare did not work well in tropical rain forests, so they did not conquer the deep south.

The Mongols encouraged regular communication within their empire. Diplomats, missionaries, etc. were allowed to travel freely. They encouraged trade, and were largely responsible for the beginning of large scale trade between Western Europe and China. They policed the silk roads heavily, which further enhanced trade and cultural exchange between East and West.

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