The world did not proclaim the dawn of globalisation the moment McDonald’s opened its doors in Beijing, or when Vietnamese factories reeled off their first Nike trainers. The term entered popular consciousness in the 1980s, but people, their economies, religions and cultures were interacting long before that.

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Centuries before the slow boats from China were filled with cheap electronics and clothing, they carried spices for the Roman Empire and tea for the British middle classes of the early 18th century. Spanish or Portuguese would not be spoken in South America if it had not been for the influence of colonial powers in the 16th century. Islam would not have made its way to Africa without the region’s long trading history with the Sinai Peninsula and Egypt.

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