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What impact did Vasco da Gama's voyage have?

Vasco da Gama's voyage opened up a direct sea route from Europe to Asia, transforming global trade and geopolitics.

Vasco da Gama's voyage in 1497-1498 was a landmark in the history of exploration. It marked the beginning of a new era in global trade and geopolitics, as it established a direct sea route from Europe to Asia. This was a significant development, as it bypassed the traditional overland routes controlled by the Ottoman Empire and other Muslim states, which had monopolised trade between East and West for centuries.

The new sea route allowed European powers, particularly Portugal and later the Netherlands, England, and France, to trade directly with the rich spice-producing regions of the East Indies. This led to a shift in the balance of trade and power, as these countries grew wealthy from the lucrative spice trade. The direct sea route also enabled the spread of Christianity to Asia, as missionaries accompanied traders and colonisers.

Moreover, da Gama's voyage led to the Age of Discovery, a period of intense exploration and colonial expansion by European powers. The knowledge and experience gained from da Gama's voyage helped other explorers to venture further into the unknown, leading to the discovery of new lands and peoples. This had profound implications for the world, as it led to the exchange of goods, ideas, and cultures between Europe and the rest of the world, a process known as the Columbian Exchange.

However, da Gama's voyage also had negative impacts. The arrival of Europeans in Asia led to the exploitation and subjugation of local populations, the destruction of indigenous cultures, and the spread of diseases to which the locals had no immunity. The establishment of European colonies also led to the displacement of local rulers and the imposition of foreign rule, which often resulted in conflict and resistance.

IB History Tutor Summary: Vasco da Gama's voyage in 1497-1498 opened a direct sea route from Europe to Asia, fundamentally changing global trade and power dynamics. It enabled European nations to directly access Asia's riches, initiating widespread exploration, trade, and colonial expansion, known as the Age of Discovery. While this brought wealth and cultural exchanges, it also led to exploitation, cultural disruption, and conflict in the regions encountered.

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