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Life

A lesson in globalization from the Spice Islands

The 16th century nutmeg trade depended on international supply chains

An active volcano dominates the small Indonesian island of Ternate. (Photo by Stephen Grenville)

TERNATE, Indonesia -- Nearly 160 years ago, the naturalist and professional beetle-collector Alfred Russel Wallace dispatched a momentous letter from Ternate, then in the far-eastern reaches of the Dutch East Indies, now part of Indonesia. Its arrival three months later at Charles Darwin's residence in England was a bombshell for Darwin, who had been wrestling for decades with his theory of evolution.

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