• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The discovery of the Americas greatly influenced world history

Extracts from this document...


The discovery of the Americas greatly influenced world history, and in particular the history of Europe. The development of it's lands and peoples as the beginnings of the new Atlantic World made a great impact on the world system. Of course, this is obvious considering that most countries from Western Europe were involved - "Spain, Portugal, Great Britain, France, the Dutch Republic, Russia, and Denmark."1 The shift in economic centres (particularly for Spain and Portugal), "represents one of the most profound transformations in human history."2 The questions are, what exactly was it's impact, and what effects did it have on the world system? This essay discusses the demographic and economic effects of the Americas on the world system, focussing primarily on population figures since the European settlement of the Americas and the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. The Americas, discovered accidentally by Columbus in 1492, became an object of interest for European explorers in about 1500 when Amerigo Vespucci "concluded that the so-called Indies were not part of eastern Asia but were in fact a new continent."3 The Spanish began conquering and settling the Caribbean Islands, and soon after in 1519, Hernan Cortez commanded an expedition into the Mexican mainland, conquering the capital of Tenochtitlan (modern day Mexico City) ...read more.


Between the middle of the fifteenth century and the end of the nineteenth century, slaves were taken from the west coast of Africa "with the full and active co-operation of African kings and merchants."11 In return for their assistance, these kings and merchants received a variety of goods - mainly beads, cowrie shells (which were used as money), textiles, brandy, horses, and most importantly, guns. So then, what did the economic benefits for Europe, provided by the slave trade, mean for the world system? In Africa, guns were introduced and this helped the kings to expand their borders and obtain more slaves for the trading. Also, slave traders actively encouraged wars in Africa, resulting in the death or enslavement of millions more Africans on that continent than ended up in the Americas. Scholars of African history believe the total number of Africans killed or abducted in Africa and the Americas could be between 50 and 100 million. Whatever the figure, the slave trade brought death and dislocation on an unimaginable scale. The extent of it's impact will never be fully known. For Spain, the introduction of the Americas into the world system meant a growth in their economic power - for a time anyway. ...read more.


The populations of the new world and other foreign continents were effected dramatically from disease, conquest, slavery and warfare, so much so that entire cultures disappeared and some new ones were formed. Suffice to say that the impact of the Americas on the world system was so profound for both demographic and economic reasons, that those studying world history cannot possibly deny it. 1 Peripheries, Centers, and the construction of Early modern American Empires, edited by Christine Daniels & Michael V. Kennedy, London, Routledge, 2002, p1. 2 Daniels & Kennedy, p1. 3 Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, Latin America., Accessed September 7, 2005. 4 Daniels & Kennedy, p1. 5 5 Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, Latin America., Accessed September 7, 2005. 6 A. Laugesen, The Making of the Atlantic World, slide 18, Accessed September 7, 2005. 7 Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, Latin America., Accessed September 7, 2005. 8 H. Thomas, The Slave Trade, London, Simon and Schuster, 1997 p.105 9 About.com, The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, Accessed September 7th 2005. 10 Annenberg: Bridging World History Online, The Americas and the Globalization of Labor: Slavery and Resistance, Accessed September 7, 2005. 11 H. Thomas, p.112 12 Encyclopedia Britannica Online, Ottoman Empire, Accessed 7th September 2005. 13 Encyclopedia Britannica Online, Ottoman Empire, Accessed 7th September 2005. 14 H. Blackwell, The Americas, London, Routledge, 2003, p.42 ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level UK, European & Global Economics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level UK, European & Global Economics essays

  1. International entrepreneurship in Europe

    The author considered the key to the environment, however, are economic structures, in particular other firms. Nation-states are also important as repositories of business practices. Whilst the focus in this book has been on the more tangible aspects of the environment, it has been made clear that local, national and corporate culture are also important determinants of business behavior.

  2. Where does the World Trade Organisation fit in the overall scheme of international public ...

    Perhaps most important, developing countries have noticeably stepped up their participation in the services negotiations and have tabled several negotiating proposals. The broad outlines of eventual agreement are not difficult to discern. All parties need to make more commitments on national treatment and market access (Articles XVI and XVII GATS), with fewer exemptions in their schedules.

  1. Will trading fairly reduce world poverty?

    or purchase, respectively, of a good, because it is considered to be in the public interest, or justified as such. * Quotas: A quota is a prescribed number or share of something. * Embargo: an embargo is the prohibition of commerce and trade with a certain country, in order to

  2. Is Mexico better off with NAFTA

    Globalization is one answer. Mobile employers have their methods to fight workers who claim their fair share. What happened when Mexican workers demonstrated for an independent union in June 2000; one pregnant woman in the hospital after police broke off the peaceful demonstration and no union.

  1. European background to the scramble for Africa (1850 to 1900)

    crops tools and skills while joining the international trading community * But it was not beneficial to most Africans as some they were often exploited and the slave trade soon followed (Covered in Topic 1) * Since the slave trade was then outlawed and because by the 1880s was an

  2. By the mid nineteenth century, Britain had been the world's strongest economic power for ...

    and the labour force, selected the most appropriate site for operations, chose the particular technologies of production to be employed, bargained for raw materials and found outlets for the finished product".4 For the purpose of this essay entrepreneurship will be taken to mean "making use of all available opportunities, and

  1. Colonialism and Colonies.

    The concept of an informal empire is used to describe British or American relations with the former Spanish colonies in South and Central America after Latin American independence in the early 19th century. III MOTIVES FOR COLONIZATION In general, strong countries dominated weaker ones to promote their own national self-interest, out of economic, religious, cultural, or other reasons.

  2. GOld History Timeline

    Artisans of the period produce intricate gold artifacts and icons. 1100 1100 Venice secures its position as the world's leading gold bullion market due to its location astride the trade routes to the east. 1284 Venice introduces the gold Ducat, which soon becomes the most popular coin in the world, and remains so for more than five centuries.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work