Throughout the seventeenth century, the Atlantic trade system developed to become one of the most influential and dominant forces during its time period. The changes in population, politics, economics, and culture that took place as a result of the system played a significant role intransforming both North and South America. One aspect that proved to be fundamental to the Atlantic trade system was the plantation complex. Once sugar and other prolific crops had crossed the Atlantic, conquest and colonization paved the way for the plantation complex to be set in place. In coordination with slave trade, the plantation complex became a highly profitable part of European domination over the New World. Despite the great loss of ships and people, the Europeans viewed the development of plantations as highly dependable way to make large economic gains. As a result, much effort was made to support the plantation complex and the Atlantic trade system. Many people migrated to work on the plantations, and many others were involved in the transportation of slaves, raw materials and manufactured goods. The plantation complex served as a crucial part of the Atlantic trade system, and helped in the development of several monumental changes during its historic process.
Four main continents sustained the Atlantic system by 1700: North and South America, Africa, and Europe. Between these continents, goods and people were traded as needed, and each continent provided a different product and benefited from the other. From the Americas, colonial products such as fur, tobacco, silver, and sugar was sent to Europe to be manufactured. From Africa, slaves were sent to Europe and primarily the Americas and put to work on plantations. From Europe, manufactured goods such as clothing, food and other supplies were sent to the other continents. The system was fluid, although it required much manpower and many ships to remain functional.