Key Concept 4.1 The interconnection of the Eastern and Western Hemispheres made possible by transoceanic voyaging marked a key transformation of this period. Technological innovations helped make transoceanic connections possible. Changing patterns of long-distance trade included the global circulation of some commodities and the formation of new regional markets and financial centers. Increased interregional and global trade networks facilitated the spread of religion and other elements of culture as well as the migration of large numbers of people. Germs carried to the Americas ravaged the indigenous peoples, while the global exchange of crops and animals altered agriculture, diets, and populations around the planet.
Key Concept 4.2 Although the world’s productive systems continued to be heavily centered on agricultural production throughout this period, major changes occurred in agricultural labor, the systems and locations of manufacturing, gender and social structures, and environmental processes. Adapting to the Little Ice Age, farmers increased agricultural productivity by introducing new crops and using new methods in crop-and- eld rotation. Economic growth also depended on new forms of manufacturing and new commercial patterns, especially in long-distance trade. Political and economic centers within regions shifted, and merchants’ social status tended to rise in various states. Demographic growth—even in areas such as the Americas, where disease had ravaged the population—was restored by the 18th century and surged in many regions, especially with the introduction of American food crops throughout the Eastern Hemisphere. The Columbian Exchange led to new ways of humans interacting with their environments. New forms of coerced and semicoerced labor emerged in Europe, Africa, and the Americas, and affected ethnic and racial classifications and gender roles. Key Concept 4.3 Empires expanded and conquered peoples around the world, but they often had difficulties incorporating culturally, ethnically, and religiously diverse subjects and administrating widely dispersed territories. Agents of the European powers moved into existing trade networks around the world. In Africa and the greater Indian Ocean, nascent European empires consisted mainly of interconnected trading posts and enclaves. In the Americas, European empires moved more quickly to settlement and territorial control, responding to local demographic and commercial conditions.
Moreover, the creation of European empires in the Americas quickly fostered a new Atlantic exchange network that included the transatlantic slave trade and transpacific exchange network. Around the world, empires and states of varying sizes pursued strategies of centralization, including more effcient taxation systems that placed strains on peasant producers, sometimes prompting local rebellions. Rulers used public displays of art and architecture to legitimize state power. African states shared certain characteristics with larger Eurasian empires. Changes in African and global trading patterns strengthened some West and Central African states, especially on the coast; this led to the rise of new states and contributed to the decline of states on both the coast and in the interior.