Spice Route

The Spice Route is the historic trade route between Asia, Africa, and Europe. It traced the import and export of spices like cinnamon, cardamom, pepper corn, ginger, and turmeric between their origin point in Asia and the high paying markets of Europe.

Spices were traded before the common era, and trade routes were developed throughout the times of the Roman Empire, and into the Middle Ages. However, the routes were transformed during the European Age of Exploration from the 15th century until the 17th century, when a new route from Europe to the Indian Ocean was found, by sailing around the Cape of Good Hope in southern Africa. This allowed for Europe to reach the Indian Ocean and Asia, without having to go over land, where routes were commonly blocked by political divides. Now able to access Asia and Eastern Africa, the European powers began developing colonies and taking control of new and valuable resources.

Text by Kat Lonsdorf.
Map showing main Portuguese (blue) and Spanish (white) oceanic trade routes in the 16th century.