Western Europe after Discovering the New World

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During 1492-1750, the Atlantic world endured social and economic transformations due to new contacts among Western Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Some social changes that occurred among the Americas and Africans were the transformation of the Indies and the Africans to the bottom of the social structure and the creation of new classes, like the mulatto class, all because of Spanish dominance. The economic transformations that occurred were the creations of sugar plantations and gold mines, creating brutal labor for African slaves and American Indians. A continuity that remained throughout the period was basing the economy on agriculture. As Spain and Portugal start dominating the eastern hemisphere, a new social structure starting taking place. The Spanish were obviously in the higher classes of the new colonies since they dominated the Indian societies for their cruelness and weaponry. The new classes that occurred were the peninsulares, creoles, and mestizos. The peninsulares were Spaniards who were born in Spain, and they were the highest class of the social structure. Creoles came after the peninsulares. They were Spanish parents who were born in New Spain. After the creoles came the mestizos who were Spanish and Native American Indian parents. The Native American Indians came after the mestizos. At the bottom of the social structure were the enslaved people who were brought from Africa and the Caribbean. The social structure was full of miscegenation, creating a new type of social structure because most countries consist of one race like the in China, Japan, and France. However, the Indian nobility remained throughout the period. At first, Brazil was irrelevant to Portugal because the only thing they found useful there was their logwood. However, sugar started developing in Brazil. Ever since sugar was introduced to the Caribbean in 1493, Brazil became the biggest sugar producer by the 15th century. Brazil was the first sugar plantation colony with the help of the Portuguese and especially the African slaves. During the 17th century, about 7000 slaves were imported from Africa to Brazil, so they could be forced to work in the sugar mills. The forced labor was brutality and the conditions were terrible. There were unsanitary and dangerous, because the slaves had to chop the sugarcanes as close as they can to the ground. Because of that, many lost fingers and legs. However, Brazil lost their dominance of the sugar market in the 17th century because the English, Dutch, and French established their own plantation colonies in the Caribbean and produced sugar in the 1680s.

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