From the end of the Middle Ages to the late nineteenth century, world commerce grew rapidly. Shipping goods of all sorts over diverse distances made inroads in markets within Europe and around the world. Merchants, their agents and shippers brought new commodities to local populations and developed enduring trading relations with people of varied backgrounds, languages and cultures. In high medieval Europe, as business expanded, merchants big and small developed increasingly sophisticated accounting procedures. Italy was a leader in most matters commercial. From 1500 to 1800, in general, the European economy, despite some difficult decades, enjoyed considerable growth. Trade and exchange for much of the period increased the most dramatically in volume and value and had the greatest impact on the rest of the economy. Trades were interconnected and interdependent so all exchange contributed to prosperity and economic growth.