A trade route is a logistical network identified as a series of pathways and stoppages used for the commercial transport of cargo. Allowing goods to reach distant markets, a single trade route contains long distance arteries which may further be connected to several smaller networks of commercial and non commercial transportation.
Historically, the period from 1250 BCE–153 CE saw the Western Asian, Mediterranean, Chinese and Indian societies develop major transportation networks for trade. Europe's early trading routes included the Amber Road, which served as a dependable network for long distance trade. Maritime trade along the Spice route became prominent during the Middle Ages; nations resorted to military means for control of this influential route. During the Middle Ages organizations such as the Hanseatic League, aimed at protecting interests of the merchants and trade, also became increasingly prominent.
With the advent of modern times, commercial activity shifted from the major trade routes of the Old World to newer routes between modern nation states. This activity was sometimes carried out without traditional protection of trade and under international free trade agreements, which allowed commercial goods to cross borders with relaxed restrictions. Innovative transportation of the modern times includes pipeline transport, and the relatively well known trade using rail routes, automobiles and cargo airlines.
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