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Mercantile Period of Migration

During the mercantile period, from 1500 to 1800, world immigra­tion was dominated by flows out of Europe and stemmed from processes of colonization and economic growth under mercantilist capitalism. Over the course of 300 years, Europeans inhabited large portions of the Americas,Africa, Asia, and Oceania. Although the exact number of colonizing emigrants is unknown,the outflow was sufficient to establish Europe's dominion over large parts of the world. During this period, emigrants generally fell into four classes: a relatively large number of agrarian settlers, a smaller number of administra­tors and artisans, an even smaller number of entrepreneurs who founded plantations to produce raw materials for Europe's growing mercantilist econo­mies, and in a very few cases, convict migrants sent to penal colonies overseas.