Source: adapted from Historical Atlas by William R. Shepherd, 1911.
The Age of Discovery, 1340-1600. University of Texas at Austin.
Spanish and Portuguese Empires (1581-1640)
Spain and Portugal were the first European nations to establish trade
empires spanning the world. By treaty (Tordesillas, 1494 and Zaragoza,
1529) most of the Americas were claimed by Spain, with the exception
of Brazil while several coastal territories of Africa, the Middle East,
South Asia and Pacific Asia were claimed by Portugal, with the exception
of the Philippines that was claimed by Spain before the Treaty of Zaragoza
was ratified. The setting of these empires were supported by trade routes
bringing the newfound wealth of the claimed territories. One important
source was the "Spice Islands" of Southeast Asia that were collected
by the Portuguese from Timor and Malacca and by the Spanish from Manila.
The Spanish trade route then crossed the Pacific to be transited through
the American land bridge linking ports such as Acapulco and Veracruz.
The wealth collected from the west coast of South America also transited
through the isthmus of Panama through Colon. A substantial amount of
wealth was thus transiting through the Caribbean on its way to Europe.
For the Portuguese, the trade route did not required a land bridge but
had to round the cape of Good Hope.