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Mobility of Asian, African, Middle Eastern and European Travelers

It cannot be gainsaid that early explorers played a significant role in the unprecedented development of the world trade, exploration and eventual discovery not only of various lucrative sea trade routes but the discovery of new continents as well. Such renowned European explorer like Christopher Columbus who was sponsored by the Spanish government is variably credited for the eventual discovery of the America’s and its eventual occupation and colonization.

That Columbus was the first European to discover the Americas is always a debatable issue because the Vikings from Scandinavia are believed to have been the first Europeans to settle in North America in what was known as the Newfoundland and Labrador (http://encarta. msn. com). Vasco Da Gama was another 15th century renowned European explorer who was sponsored by the Portuguese empire and is credited for the discovery of the sea route to India via the Cape of Good Hope at the extreme tip of the African continent.

One of the greatest catalysts for the aggressive exploration of the various sea routes is believed to have been the Muslim factor (http://encarta. msn. com). The Muslims had monopolized the sea trade with Asia and acted as the link between the Europeans and the many products that were available from Asia. Such trade products like silk, spices and so on were in great demand in Europe and any one who managed to monopolize this trade would make a kill. The Muslim Ottoman Empire closed all trade routes in 1453 thereby making the Muslims kingpins of the routes.

This did not go down well with the Europeans who increased there thirst for alternative routes. This is what mainly led for the European powers to sponsor some of their explorers to spearhead this mission. Other reasons that motivated the Europeans were the fear of the rapid spread of the Muslim religion which was threatening to overshadow Christianity (Chaudhury 124). Besides the European explorers there also existed other explorers from other regions of Asia, Middle Eastern and African explorers who also made significant impact in the famous sea trade between Asia and the rest of the world.

Such explorers included Ibn Batuta, Mansa Musa and Ma Haun. Unlike their European counter parts these particular explorers were mainly motivated by trade and not any thing else. (http://encarta. msn. com). However there existed other non European travelers like Zheng He whose main motive with the support of the Ming government was to extend and stamp Chinese presence and increase imperial trade control on the Indian Ocean Basin.

He was not a merchant, thus was not greatly interested in trade, being an admiral his main motive through the various naval expeditions across the Indian Ocean was to impress on the foreign peoples of the might of the Ming government (Friedman 34) One main difference between the European travelers and the other travelers from the rest of the world was the extensive use of technological navigational tools and better ships that were able to counter the rough seas. The European explorers in many instances faced great resistance from the territories that they stepped in.

This was at the instigation of the Muslim traders who tried to dissuade them from establishing a link with Asia (Chaudhury 130). Despite their many differences and similarities which cannot be comprehensively covered in a few pages, these explorers changed the whole world trade scene bringing about what would be a precursor to the modern world phenomena of globalization. Without their contribution and sacrifice, the acceleration of the integration of the world’s economy would have been greatly compromised.

Works Cited

Chaudhury, S. Et Morineau M. : Merchants, Companies and Trade: Europe and Asia in the Early Modern Era, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge1999 pg 112-134 Friedman, Thomas: The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux. 2005 pg 34-40 Vasco da Gama: Article accessed on 28th July 2008 from Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2008 http://encarta. msn. com/encyclopedia_761567498/vasco_da_gama. html.

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