Main Eurasian Trade Routes c.1650, European Controlled Areas

Main Eurasian Trade Routes c.1650, European Controlled Areas
Main Eurasian Trade Routes c.1650, European Controlled Areas 3

Main Eurasian Trade Routes c.1650, European Controlled Areas

Source: America’s History, Sixth Edition, © 2008 Bedford/St.Martin’s

Exploring the Main Eurasian Trade Routes and European Controlled Areas c. 1650

During the mid-17th century, the landscape of global trade was significantly different from what we know today. The various routes that connected the vast region of Eurasia were critical arteries for the flow of goods, ideas, and cultural practices. This period, circa 1650, also witnessed the expansion of European control over several parts of the world. Let’s delve into the intriguing past to understand the main Eurasian trade routes and the areas under European control during this time.

The Silk Road: The Legendary Eurasian Trade Route

Perhaps the most iconic of all Eurasian trade routes, the Silk Road, was a network of land and sea paths stretching approximately 4,000 miles from the Mediterranean in the West to China in the East. It facilitated the exchange of commodities like silk, spices, and precious stones. During the 17th century, despite its diminished significance due to maritime trade, the Silk Road continued to function as a crucial trade route.

Maritime Routes: Seafaring Pathways to Riches

With advancements in navigation technology, maritime trade routes gained prominence during this period. These sea routes connected European nations with the wealthy empires of Asia, including the Ottoman Empire, Mughal India, and Ming China.

The Spice Route

The Spice Route was a vital maritime trade route, primarily controlled by the Portuguese and the Dutch. It extended from Europe via the Cape of Good Hope to the Spice Islands of Indonesia, famous for their cloves, nutmeg, and mace.

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The Silver Route

The Silver Route, also known as the Manila Galleons, was primarily controlled by the Spanish. It facilitated the trade of silver from the mines of South America, via Acapulco in Mexico, to Manila in the Philippines, and finally to China.

European Controlled Areas c. 1650

During the mid-17th century, European powers expanded their territories, exerting control over several parts of the world.

The Portuguese Empire

The Portuguese controlled key points along the maritime Spice Route, including Goa in India, Malacca in Malaysia, and the Spice Islands. In addition, they had established colonies in Brazil and parts of Africa.

The Dutch Empire

The Dutch made significant gains during this period. They took control of valuable territories in present-day Indonesia, South Africa, and Sri Lanka, and established New Amsterdam, which would later become New York City.

The Spanish Empire

The Spanish had an extensive empire that included large parts of the Americas, the Philippines, and some territories in Europe, such as parts of Italy and the Netherlands.

The British Empire

Although the British Empire was in its nascent stage during this period, it had begun establishing colonies in North America and the Caribbean and made inroads into the Indian subcontinent.


The intricate tapestry of trade routes in Eurasia around 1650 paints a vivid picture of a world in the throes of globalization. These routes, whether over land or sea, formed the backbone of commerce, facilitating the exchange of goods, ideas, and cultures. Simultaneously, European powers were expanding their spheres of influence, marking the beginning of an era of unprecedented European dominance. Understanding these developments provides valuable insights into the historical forces that have shaped our modern world.

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