This era includes only 300 years, but some profound and long-lasting changes occurred. Characteristics of the time between 1450 and 1750 include:
1) The globe was encompassed - For the first time, the western hemisphere came into continued contact with the eastern hemisphere. Technological innovations, strengthened political organization, and economic prosperity all contributed to this change that completely altered world trade patterns.
2) Sea-based trade rose in proportion to land-based trade - Technological advancements and willingness of political leaders to invest in it meant that sea-based trade became much more important. As a result, old land-based empires lost relative power to the new sea-based powers.
3) European kingdoms emerged that gained world power - The relative power and prosperity of Europe increased dramatically during this time in comparison to empires in the longer-established civilization areas. However, Europe did not entirely eclipse powerful empires in Southwest Asia, Africa, and East Asia.
4) The relative power of nomadic groups declined - Nomads continued to play an important role in trade and cultural diffusion, and they continued to threaten the borders of the large land-based empires. However, their power dwindled as travel and trade by water became more important.
5) Labor systems were transformed - The acquisition of colonies in North and South America led to major changes in labor systems. After many Amerindians died from disease transmitted by contact with Europeans, a vigorous slave trade from Africa began and continued throughout most of the era. Slave labor became very important all over the Americas. Other labor systems, such as the mita and encomienda in South America, were adapted from previous native traditions by the Spanish and Portuguese.
6) "Gunpowder Empires" emerged in the Middle East and Asia - Empires in older civilization areas gained new strength from new technologies in weaponry. Basing their new power on "gunpowder," they still suffered from the old issues that had plagued land-based empires for centuries: defense of borders, communication within the empire, and maintenance of an army adequate to defend the large territory. By the end of the era, many were less powerful than the new sea-based kingdoms of Europe.