Sri Lankan Spice Trade

Sri Lankan Spice Trade





Even though Sri Lankan spices were rare,costly and a luxury that the ordinary people could not afford they have been available in the European spice market for a considerable length of time. As a matter of fact, there was a time, a pound of spice was viewed as more significant than a pound of gold.

The spice trade in Asia at the time was a kind of a monopoly. The spice exchange was run by the Arabic and North African dealers who were prepared to pay a great sum of money for a pound of the fascinating thing. But things changed after some time,due to the development took place in shipbuilding and the voyages of discoveries another more powerful group entered the so called spice competition in Asia. It was the  Expert Sailors of Europe who became a great challenge to the Arabs who had a strong hold of the spice trade.

By the 1400's the European sailors had realized that their ships  could beat camels, so the European sailors started to sail towards Asia searching for new land and the valuable rare spices. Thus, spices would eventually be transported via ocean from the Indies to Europe, and the Middle Eastern middlemen would be no more the masters of the spice trade.

It was presumably the Portuguese traveler Vasco de Gama in 1498 who is credited with the discovery of a sea route from Europe to Asia.To be more precise from Europe to India. This discovery of Vasco de Gama was a great stride in the expansion and spread of the Sri Lankan spice in the European market. Vasco de Gama's success as a pilgrim prompted the Portuguese arrival in Sri Lanka in 1536, though they were not greatly welcome by the Muslim traders and the Sinhalese , after sometime a settlement was reached by Portugal and Sri Lanka that incorporated a tribute of 110,000 pounds of cinnamon paid every year to Portugal by the Sinhalese Kings. Ever since Sri Lankan spices specially cinnamon were widely available in the European spice market.