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Spice Trade, The

The name given to the trade of importing spices, obtained from tropical plants - such as cloves, nutmeg and pepper - from the Far East to Europe.

Pepper was always the most important, and was being traded from the Far to Middle East well before 2000 BC. Up to the end of the Middle Ages, their profits made states such as Florence, Genoa and most of all Venice very rich.

Towards the end of the 16th century, the Dutch - followed a little later by the English - started dealing directly by sea with the mainly Indian source (Hindu's were loath to leave their country to trade, during this period, as they would lose faith under the caste system) and Southern Europe was largely cut out of the distribution system or Northern Europe and later the U.S.A.

In today's world, the biggest dealer is Singapore, and the biggest importers the U.S.A , followed by Germany, Japan and France. India is still the biggest producer.

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