Effects of European Migration

The Age of Discovery brought not only exotic goods and trade routes to the Europeans, it also provided them places to which they could migrate. This, in turn, created new cultural and social patterns as they established colonies in both Africa and Asia, while also migrating to parts of the Americas. 

During this time, the European explorers referred to Southeast Asia and India simply as the “East Indies”. Merchants, meaning individuals or groups who are associated with trade specifically with foreign countries, were the ones who were leading the force for colonization of the East Indies. They did this in hopes of growing their trading companies and to also bring home goods that could be distributed and sold. The East India Company, for instance, was an immensely influential trading company. Formed in England in 1600, it was created to protect British trade interests in the East Indies. So as not to be excluded from this trading opportunity, the Netherlands also founded their own trading company two years later, which they called the Dutch East India Company. Certain countries in Asia, however, did not appreciate the constant influx of traders and the disruption to their everyday lives. China, for instance, proposed a set of rules for the traders to follow in an attempt to isolate themselves from the trading companies. While the Dutch followed these regulations, the British did not, and therefore the English company suffered. 

The continent of Africa experienced similar disruptions that led to tensions involving race and status. The European explorers, eager to find trade routes, did so along the coasts of the continent. After the explorers figured out that they could trade slaves instead of just goods, it opened an expansive market. The slave trade, however, lent itself to raids by Africans and Europeans, resulting in the kidnapping of many individuals to be sold into slavery. In addition to kidnapping and enslaving Africans, the Europeans traded gold, salt, and other resources, and in exchange, they passed on not only goods from their home countries, but germs and deadly diseases as well. 

Finally, the presence of European explorers - specifically those from Spain and Portugal - wreaked havoc on the native populations of South America. Their migration resulted in the end of the Aztec and Incan Empires, and thus, a rigid system of class developed in Latin America, also known as a hierarchy. The explorers colonized these areas (meaning took control over them) and forced the conquered peoples to practice European cultural and social patterns, such as religion and language. 

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