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Silk Road and Indian Ocean Trade

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The Silk Road, once a popular trade route, slowly was overshadowed by the growing Indian Ocean trade. The Indian Ocean trade route was more efficient, easier to travel, and much faster. Meanwhile the Silk Road became less traveled because of its harsh geography, the spread of disease, and the fall of the empires that supported the trade.

Differences in geography caused the Silk Road to decline and expanded the Indian Ocean trade. Both routes experienced different kinds of difficulties. The Silk Road, which included mountains, deserts, rivers and grasslands, was harder to travel due to the fact that those on it had to go either by foot or by horse. On the other hand, the Indian Ocean trade route was faster because of the use of ships. Using ships allowed this route to cover more territory, which included the Arabian, South China, and Red Sea, along with the Indian Ocean. Both routes had dangers, including bandits on the Silk Road; pirates and storms on the Indian Ocean route. Although both were harsh and dangerous in their own ways, overall, the Indian Ocean trade route was the better route.

The Bubonic Plague was spread mainly through the Silk Road creating the first ever Pandemic known to the world. The Bubonic Plague started in western Asia by the Mongolians. The Silk Road used horses to trade goods across the many regions. The animals created a home for fleas which was the main animal that spread the plague all throughout Europe and caused two – thirds of the population to die. The Bubonic Plague nevered reached the Americas and only infected Europe. This was because the east and west hemispheres were separated by the Atlantic Ocean. Therefore, the plague could only be passed on by fleas and it was not airborne, so the best way to prevent the disease from spreading was trading through the sea instead of the Silk Road. They were both able to spread the disease but the Indian Ocean Trade Route did not spread it as much as the Silk Road.

Trade routes passed through caravans cities and empires where merchants traded. Obviously, if an empire would fall, then it would affect the course of the trade. For example, the collapse of the Tang Empire led to the disruption at its eastern end. In addition, most of these merchants in Central Asia were from the Mongols Empires. Riots and chaos would stir when an empire fell; people were free to do whatever they wanted to without a government. When there were corruptions, these merchants would eventually stop trading, fearing that they may get killed on the way. However, without any caravan cities to pass through on water, ships on the Indian Ocean Trade did not have to worry about going through all the chaos on land. Though there were pirates and storms, a less worry free trip would attract more traders than one that is filled with more hazards. These many reasons have led people to travel using the Indian Ocean Trade route rather than the Silk Road. Ultimately, trading using the Indian Ocean Trade route rather than the Silk Road was more profitable, secure and swift. In conclusion, the Indian Oceans routes were at least seventy percent more efficient than the Silk Road. Trades now still exist through the Indian Ocean where Southeast Asian countries still trade with one another and with India.

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