Teaching Students About the Triangular Trade Route

The Triangular Trade Route was one of the most important commercial routes of the 16th century. It has a significant impact on the world economy and is a testament to how trade shapes world history. Teaching students about the Triangular Trade Route is important as it helps them acquire an in-depth understanding of global commerce, the movement of goods, and the evolution of world economies. Here are some key factors to include in explaining the Triangular Trade Route to students.


The Triangular Trade Route was a transportation network that connected Europe, Africa, and the Americas. The trading path resulted in the exchange of goods, people, and culture. The trade was triangular because it involved three main phases: the outbound leg from Europe to Africa to purchase slaves, the middle passage where slaves were shipped to the New World, and lastly, the return journey of products from the New World to Europe.

Explaining the Trade

In teaching about the trade route, students need to understand the three stages. The outward stage involved European merchants trading goods like firearms, cloth, and ironware, for African slaves. The primary destination was the west coast of Africa, primarily in Senegal, Ivory Coast, and Gold Coast. The Middle Passage was the stage in which enslaved Africans were shipped to the New World. Upon arrival, they were sent to labour on plantations of sugar, tobacco, and cotton. In the final leg, goods produced on the plantations were shipped back to Europe.

Implications of the Trade Route

The Triangular Trade Route had significant implications on the world economy. The exchange of goods, people, and culture contributed to the industrial revolution, leading to a technological cultural shift in the world. The trade contributed to the establishment of European empires in America and Africa, leading to colonization of the region, which significantly shaped the world order. Moreover, the trade led to a shift in power, wealth, and resources, as European nations competed for dominance in the trade.


In conclusion, teaching about the Triangular Trade Route is essential for students of History, Global Studies, and Economics. The trade route contributed to the establishment of the modern global economy and has significantly shaped the world. By learning about the Triangular Trade Route, students can better understand the forces that drive the trade and how it has affected the world and its people. We must teach future generations these lessons and pass on knowledge to preserve and promote the growth of a global society.

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