During the early modern era from 1450 to 1750, there was a rise in navigation technology in Europe. This is due in part because of increased trade with the East as well as a change in political and economic structures in Europe after the Black Death destabilized the European feudal system. As a result, Europeans saw an increase in trade and connections with the East.
Eastern technologies from the post-classical era, like the magnetic compass, astrolabe, lateen sails, clocks, and more detailed maps enabled the Age of Exploration. The Chinese had invented new ships, called junks, with sternpost rudders that could withstand oceanic voyages. They also invented magnetic compasses, which allowed navigators to find North and therefore all directions. The Arab world produced astrolabes, which used mathematical calculations and the angle of the sun and horizon at noon to calculate latitude. They also produced lateen sails, which allowed sailors to catch wind from any direction. They contributed to ship design with the dhow.
The Europeans adapted these ship designs and built the caravel, a ship designed to hug coasts and store massive amounts of cargo. With new ships, increased sailing knowledge, and Eastern navigation technology, they were able to start exploring. The resulting Age of Exploration saw the Spanish in the New World and in the Philippines, the Portuguese setting up trading cities along African and Asian coastlines as well as colonizing Brazil, the British and French competing for lands in North America, the Pacific, and in India, and the Dutch colonizing lands in South America and in Southeast Asia. Both the British and Dutch set up joint-stock trading companies to manage the new mercantile economies, and the Spanish find silver mines in the Andes that produces a new global currency, called pezos de ocho (pieces of eight).
Coastal cities like London, Amsterdam, Boston, New York, Charleston, Goa, Calcutta, Zanzibar, and Malacca transformed from trading cities into major hubs for trade, where European silver coins bought up luxury goods. In India, for example, Portuguese and British trading cities in Goa and Calcutta (respectively) exchanged silver for spices and other luxury goods like cotton and tea, enabling Europeans to grow powerful and funneling money into India. These cities expanded as more and more Europeans started to trade, and although this was beneficial for the merchants living and working in these port cities, it gave Europe an hegemonic advantage over what were soon to become colonies in the global South—the Caribbean, Central and South America, Africa, India, and Southeast Asia.
Linked below are some maps that show the extent to which coastal cities were engaged in trade. This new interconnected economy helped build globalization, where the worlds peoples were connected in ways impossible before the Age of Exploration.