world trade routes
Written by Waseem Raza

A trade route is a route, often covering long distances i.e. an area or land or sea etc. that is used by traders for trading their goods and services. For Economic activities, traders used these routes in order to exchange multiple commodities. A trade route can be established between any multiple points that are linked by trade, whatever the distance between them and these routes can exist within a small area or specific region or over large distances between a numbers of regions. No matter what type of commodities they transported, trade routes played a vital role.

For the formation of good trade relations around the globe and were often sources for the exchange of not only goods, but of people and ideas. All trade routes exchanged multiple goods, the largest and most famous trade routes became known for the transportation of specific precious commodities such as gold, salt and silk. For the development of human history, there must be the connection between trade routes and the development of cultures and political entities. So the trade routes which are created by the traders are very important to bring political and social change. Also read types of agriculture

Land routes are the routes through which trade activities among different parts of country exist through land roads. Following are the land routes that are given below:

Silk Road

The Silk Road was a network of trade routes, which linked the regions of the ancient world in commerce and it also links the ancient civilization of china and the Roman Empire. While many different kinds of merchandise traveled along the Silk Road, the name comes from the popularity of Chinese silk with the West especially with Rome. Silk was traded from china to the Roman Empire which starts in the first century in exchange for wool, silver and gold coming from Europe. The greatest value of the Silk Road was the exchange of culture. Art, religion, philosophy, technology, language, science, architecture and every other element of civilization was exchanged through the Silk Road along with the commercial goods the merchants carried from country to country.

world trade routes

Trans-Saharan Route

The Trans-Saharan route from North Africa to West Africa was made up of number of routes, providing a crisscross of trading links across the desert. The Sahara once had a very different environment. Thousands of camels would carry goods across the Sahara. Gold, slaves, salt and clothes were the most important commodities on this route. This route also encouraged the development of state building and monetary system. This trade route was instrumental in spread of Islam.

Amber Road

Amber has been traded since 3000 BCE. Romans developed Amber road linking the Baltic with the rest of Europe. They valued stones for both decorative and medicinal purposes. Large deposits of Amber are found under the Baltic Sea. Today traces of the old Amber Road can be found in Poland, where one of the major routes is known as the “Amber Highway”.

Grand Trunk Road

The grand trunk road is one of Asian’s great historical road and a major route connecting much of the Indian subcontinent. It runs through parts of Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The objective of this route is to facilitate trade activities. It was built by Sher shah Suri. The road continues to Pakistan near Peshawar through Khyber Pass from Afghanistan.

2. Sea Routes

A sea route is a regularly used route for vessels on oceans and large lakes to carry the trade activities among different countries of the world. Following are the sea routes of the world:

Mediterranean Suez Asiatic Route

It links Europe to the Far East. This route transport goods and services from the Middle East and the raw material from the Asian countries. Due to wars in the Middle East the trade activities through this route are disturbed especially through Suez Canal. However, trade in the Mediterranean Sea still flourishes with ports like Tel-aviv, Algiers and Venice.

world trade routes

North Atlantic Route

North Atlantic Route lies in the area which is considered the busiest in the world. It links Europe with the North America. On both sides of North Atlantic are areas of very dense rich population and with various industrial activities. It has some of the world’s largest sea and one of the European sides. The major ports of this route include Rotterdam, Amsterdam, London and Lisbon. These are outlets for the rich agricultural, commercial and industrial areas of Europe. Large quantities of manufactured goods are traded to North America.

West-Indies Route/Panama Route

It is through Panama Canal. It has become the great way to the pacific. It has facilities of the trade activities like minerals, food stuffs and manufactured goods between the East west coastal areas of USA. It is also an important trade route for China, Japan and south-East Asian countries with Western Europe.

The Rhine Water Way

The Rhine is Europe’s most important water way. It flows through Switzerland and Germany. The Rhine River is linked to Rhone River and the Mediterranean by the Rhone river canal. It passes through the most important industrialized areas in the world i.e. Rahur industrial region and enter the busiest sea in the world i.e. North Sea. The trade activities on the River Rhine include machinery, steel pipes, diesel engines, watches, food stuffs, oil, and coal and iron ore.


With the development of means of transport and free trade agreements, modern routes are introduced. Newer means of transport led to the establishment of new routes, and countries opened up borders to allow trade activities of goods as per prevailing free trade agreement. Some trading routes were reopened during the modern times.

Wagon Way Route

Wagon way consists of the horses, equipment and tracks used for hauling wagons. The advantage of using wagon way was that far bigger loads could be transported with the same power. The settlers in the U.S used this wagon train for westward emigration during the 18th and 19th centuries. Wagon route were crossing rivers, mountains and hostile Native Americans. Wagon frightening was also essentials for American growth until it was replaced by the railroad and the truck.

Railway Route

Through this route trade are benefited as the workers and the lower classes had the ability to travel to other towns frequently. The British constructed a vast railway network in India but it was considered to serve a strategic purpose in addition to the commercial purpose. These remain the best means of transporting large volumes of commodities such as coal grain, chemicals and ore over long distances. The development of containerization has made the railroads more effective in handling finished goods at relatively high speeds.

world trade routes

Air Routes 

Air transport has become an essential part of modern world. People have come to use air transport both for long and middle distances. This mode of transportation links national, international and global economies that are beneficial to many other industries. Express delivery through international cargo airlines touched $20 billion in 1998 and according to the world trade organization; it is expected to triple in 2015. Air transport particularly favors light, expensive and small products. Read more

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