Change over Time

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The period of 1492-1750 opened up new worlds and old worlds to a world of growing interdependence and connectivity. This era was home to the discovery and subsequent European colonization of the Americas and the African slave trade (the diaspora) both being remarkable and profound events in world history. The interactions focused on three regions: Western Europe, Africa, and the Americas. The communication expanded the economies of all three regions while damaging social structures of Africa and forging new social structures in the Americas.

​By 1492, Europe was on the verge of an economic explosion and Africa and America were relatively quiet in the global economy. Long before European contact in Africa slaves and trans-Saharan slave trade were in existence. Portuguese explorers came upon Africa to find this institution. An institution once belonging to Africa would become globalized. Europeans soon began to export slaves to their countries and eventually to the American economies. The slave trade put Africa on the map as a contending economic power. The slave workers fueled the American economies soon thereafter. The Europeans had difficulty finding and maintaining native-American labor. Slaves filtered into the Caribbean, Brazil, and the southern U.S to serve on plantations. The sugar industry was growing in Europe and the slaves satisfied the Portuguese sweet-tooth on the “engenhos” and in other lands. By creating the triangular slave trade, the Americas entered the global economy and Europe morphed into a more powerful one.​

​The social effects and developments differ for each respective land. In Africa, slave trade tore at the social structure. There was more of a demand for male slaves and left many regions dominated by females. This broke up the traditional family of Africa. Differing tribes eventually found themselves at war only to obtain more slaves to fuel their growing economies. The slave trade damaged the social integrity of African society....
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