The Economic and Political Causes of European Exploration and Colonization
By 1400s, European countries began to dominate the globe with trade and advanced technologies. England, Spain, France and Portugal emerged as the strongest nations in the 1400s and 1500s. For reasons separate for each, the dominant European powers desired to expand their reign beyond Europe. Europeans began exploring various economic reasons, but they did not want to set up colonies right away. However, political reasons arose after the first discovery of the New World for European nations to begin colonizing lands to expand their authorities. Wealth, national pride, and religious and political freedom were the main causes of exploration and colonization. First, the primary aim of exploration was to find an alternative route by sea to the riches of the East. In the 1400s, European nations were using trade to gain wealth. In particular, trade with Asia for luxuries such as silks, spices, gold, and jewels that were not available in Europe was lucrative business. However, Muslims controlled the land trade route because it was geographically located between Europe and Asia; Europeans had difficulty traveling by land to Asia because they had religious conflicts with the Muslims. As a solution, the Europeans sought ways to go by sea. Chritopher Columbus himself was attempting to do just that. Early explorers such as Columbus and Magellan began their voyages in search of trade routes with Asia. However, they were not equipped with good maps or fast ships to make such voyages. Columbus thought he would reach Asia by sailing west (under the knowledge that Earth was round), but in fact, he reached America or the New World. Although Columbus began a series of European explorations, there was little interest in colonizing because their primary goal had been economic - to establish new routes of trade for wealth. While Columbus’ discovery of the New...
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