Access to money, education, and products from all over the world fueled urbanization in cities such as Hangzhou, Timbuktu, and Malacca. Despite the fact that metropolitan locations were often less healthful places to live, trade cities drew people in with their bustling economies and job possibilities.
Trade routes played a major role in bringing civilization to areas of the world that would have otherwise been inaccessible. Cities such as Hangzhou, Timbuktu, and Malacca that grew up along the trading routes were able to offer amenities and services that would have been difficult for them to provide otherwise. They also provided work opportunities for people who might not have found other ways into the labor force.
In addition to bringing economic opportunity, trade routes also brought disease. The crowded conditions in many of these cities allowed pathogens to spread quickly, killing or debilitating large numbers of people. For example, an epidemic of bubonic plague killed an estimated 100,000 people between 1347 and 1351 in China's Yunnan Province, which had one of the largest trade networks in the world at the time. In 1403, a similar number of people could be seen dead in Malacca during a rebellion against Portuguese rule. These losses of life would not have happened if these cities had not existed. There were also many cases where disease was spread by travelers looking for work or fleeing violence. Examples include influenza and cholera.
Trading towns were critical to the dissemination of products along the Silk Road and Indian Ocean trade routes. Hangzhou, Timbuktu, and Malacca are a few examples of prominent commerce cities. All are conveniently positioned along important rivers, with several also along overland commerce routes. Commerce cities tended to be larger than other settlements, with an established commercial district along with satellite communities that grew up around religious sites or as defense against invaders.
In addition to being major transportation hubs, many trading cities had significant political roles too. Indeed, some have gone so far as to say that all cities developed in antiquity were trading cities until the advent of Rome!
Trade was vital to any city's survival - without goods to exchange for products from elsewhere in the world markets there would be no market for those products, and without buyers there would be no need to produce them. A city that controlled its own trade routes could therefore influence the supply of items that were available to buy and sell. Trading cities also played an important role in the spread of religion - many religions emerged or evolved in places where trade was concentrated such as Egypt, India, and China. In order to practice their beliefs, people needed commodities with which to decorate themselves or build shelters, so trade was essential to their culture too.
The development of large urban centers was certainly not a new phenomenon when Europe began its expansion into the rest of the world.
The Yellow River is the most significant river in this region of China; it provided access to the East Asian market by water. The Niger River provides access to West Africa. The Yangtze River serves as a link between South China and North China.
These cities were linked by land as well as by water. In addition to serving as trading posts, they also became centers for learning with connections to Europe. Chinese traders traveled to these cities from as far away as Baghdad, India, and Indonesia to buy spices, silk, and other goods that were then shipped back to China.
In fact, much of what we now call Asia was once part of the continent of Gondwana, which broke up about 150 million years ago. When it did, it left behind a huge pile of rock called orogeny (which means "mountain making"). This area experienced many mountain-building events during its history, resulting in a variety of climate zones and regions rich in resources.
As individuals aspired to live closer to their manufacturing jobs, towns and cities expanded during and after the Industrial Revolution. People frequently lived in tight quarters in order to be closer to their employment. These employment were generally low-paying, but they were not seasonal like agricultural labour. In addition to proximity to work, other factors such as transportation cost, safety, and cultural attractions led people to move to cities.
Cities provided a social environment where people could meet others who had similar interests, which was important for advancement in a new industry. They also had government offices that people could go to with questions or problems, and police departments that could help if someone was being threatened or attacked. Cities also had large markets full of stores where one could find everything from food to clothing to entertainment. All in all, cities were attractive places to live because they offered opportunities that rural areas did not.
During the 19th century, when agriculture became more industrialized, city populations increased even more. By 1920, half of all Americans lived in cities, and by 1975 this number was expected to rise to two thirds.
Cities are important for economic development because they provide industries that need large quantities of products and services from small businesses. They also provide workers for larger companies. A city's economy is dependent on how successful these efforts are at attracting people to live there and keep them coming back for more.