The Silk Road had a decisive influence on the emergence and development of trade and cultural relations between peoples and nations. It connects the western and eastern parts of the Eurasian continent and leads through China and the Central Asian countries Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. In the east, the routes lead to Korea and Japan, in the west to Russia, Eastern and Western Europe and in the south to India and the Middle East. It was a transit route with mutual trade in goods, scientific ideas and cultural and religious values. The Silk Road also served as a means of disseminating information through traders and travellers.
A Chinese official, Zhang Qian, visited the Fergana Valley in 138 BC and learned of the great demand for Chinese goods and at the same time discovered much that was unknown in China. He also played a decisive role in the foundation of the Silk Road. On his return, he presented a report on the advantages of trade between China and Central Asia.
Many suspect that the Silk Road was originally mainly used to export Chinese silk to Western countries. However, there is a long list of exotic goods: Spices and incense, carpets and fabrics, arrows and swords, semi-precious stones and precious stones, gold and silver ingots, porcelain and furs. In addition, animals such as horses and camels, but also elephants, falcons, cheetahs and parrots were traded.
Additionally, the Silk Road played a major role in the dissemination of religious ideas. Various missionaries carried their faith to the lands of other peoples. Buddhism came from India via Central Asia to China, while Islam was spread from the Arabian Peninsula.
The decline of the Silk Road is linked to the development of shipping along the coasts of the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia. As a result, trade shifted from land to water during the 16th century.