Trading routes


The earliest credible evidence of either coffee drinking or knowledge of the coffee tree appears in the middle of the fifteenth century, in the Sufi monasteries of the Yemen in southern Arabia. From Mocha, coffee spread to Egypt and North Africa, and by the 16th century, it had reached the rest of the Middle East, Persia and Turkey. From the Middle East, coffee drinking spread to Italy, then to the rest of Europe, and coffee plants were transported by the Dutch to the East Indies and to the Americas.

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Before the beginning of the Dutch governance, the island of Ceylon was divided between the Portuguese Empire and the Kingdom of Kandy, who were in the midst of a war for control of the island as a whole. The island attracted the attention of the newly formed Dutch Republic when they were invited by the Sinhalese King to fight the Portuguese. Dutch rule over much of the island was soon imposed.

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Sinod-Dutch relations began prior to the founding of the People's Republic of China in the 17th and 18th century when Dutch traders of the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC) setup trading post in Guangzhou and also in the western coast of Taiwan.

People's Republic of China–Netherlands began in 1954. Due to the Netherlands government assistance with two submarines to Taiwan, the bilateral relationship was downgraded in May 1981 to the level of Chargé d'affaires. It was until 1 February 1984, China and the Netherlands restored full diplomatic relations when the Netherlands agreed not to conduct trade in relation to defence hardware with Taiwan.

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Dutch East Indies

This colony which later formed modern-day Indonesia was one of the most valuable European colonies under the Dutch Empire's rule, and contributed to Dutch global prominence in spice and cash crop trade in the 19th to early 20th century. The colonial social order was based on rigid racial and social structures with a Dutch elite living separate but linked to their native subjects. The term Indonesia came into use for the geographical location after 1880. In the early 20th century, local intellectuals began developing the concept of Indonesia as a nation state, and set the stage for an independence movement.

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Dutch presence on the Indian subcontinent lasted from 1605 to 1825. Merchants of the Dutch East India Company first established themselves in Dutch Coromandel, notably Pulicat, as they were looking for textiles to exchange with the spices they traded in the East Indies. Dutch Suratte and Dutch Bengal succeeded in 1616 and 1627 respectively. After the Dutch conquered Ceylon from the Portuguese in 1656, they took the Portuguese forts on the Malabar coast five years later as well, to secure Ceylon from Portuguese invasion.

Apart from textiles, the items traded in Dutch India include precious stones, indigo, and silk across India, saltpeter and opium in Dutch Bengal, and pepper in Dutch Malabar. Indian slaves were imported on the Spice Islands and in the Cape Colony.

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When formal trade relations were established in 1609, by requests from Englishman William Adams, the Dutch were granted extensive trading rights and set up a Dutch East India Company trading outpost at Hirado. When the Shimabara uprising of 1637 happened, in which Christian Japanese started a rebellion against the Tokugawa shogunate, it was crushed with the help of the Dutch. As a result all Christian nations who gave aid to the rebels were expelled leaving the Dutch the only commercial partner from the West. Among the expelled nations was Portugal who had a trading post in Nagasaki harbor on an artificial island called Dejima. In a move of the shogunate to take the Dutch trade away from the Hirado clan the entire Dutch trading post was moved to Dejima.

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