European exploration from the 15th to the 20th centuries has had a profound and permanent effect on world history. As the European nations enriched their societies with new goods and crops, precious metals and more, they decimated indigenous populations.
European expansion and colonialism was fueled by advances made in the 15th century in military and maritime technologies and by the 20th century they had established contact with virtually every other culture in the world. They established the first global trade routes and connections.
The Europeans introduced metal tools and other innovations to the Americas even as they also introduced devastating illnesses that killed up to 90 percent of the populations they encountered in some cases and appropriated indigenous lands.