Explain the connection between European exploration of North and South America and international trade.

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rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Historians have recently emphasized how Europe, the Americas, and Africa were each enmeshed in a system of commercial and cultural exchange known as the Atlantic World. International trade quickly became the guiding force behind settling the New World, as plantations in the Americas furnished a variety of cash crops to European markets. The settling of the colonies, and the rise of plantation agriculture also led to the rise of the international slave trade, which earned immense profits for metropolitan merchants (and, initially, African kings) even as it sentenced millions of Africans to a life of toil.

Over time, the colonial economies became increasingly integrated, especially in the English colonies, where North American produce such as rice, timber, and other products were shipped to West Indian planters, who in turn supplied European markets with sugar. American plantations shipped other staples as well, including tobacco, coffee (in the case of South American colonies) and served as markets for metropolitan manufactures.

While the old "triangular trade" model has been dismissed by Atlanticists as overly simplistic, it is important to understand how integrated the economies of European nations and their colonies were. Indeed, the economic philosophy of mercantilism, which emphasized the acquisition of wealth by the nation through favorable trade policies, was formed in this context.

iklan100 | Student

While I believe this isnt the main answer and the question has already been claimed, the age of exploration and discovery resulting in the discovery of North and South America/s had considerable significance at a number of levels.

In terms of international trade and economics, two (2) main changes occurred: (1) whole new worlds/continents of untapped wealth and resources were suddenly opened up to some early exploring European nations, and these became the first colonists and thereby developed and prospered and (2) thus, in consequence of this new found wealth and resources, the global balance of power, of economic control shifted from the East (in particular from the Islamic world) to the West.

I hope the link below is also of some use to help expand and clarify these points further.