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Caravans may ignore adjacent enemy units during movement. They have no maintenance cost and do not cause unhappiness when away from their home city under Republic and Democracy. Caravans can establish trade routes between cities that are at least 10 squares apart. They can assist in the construction of Wonders.
Trade has been a major source of income to civilizations throughout history. Journeying to distant lands, Caravans exchanged their loads of goods for money or other items of value, leaving both parties better off. In addition, the traders who accompanied the Caravans often brought back new knowledge about the advances made by their contacts. Such a person was Marco Polo, who went with traders to China, stayed there for many years, and brought back much valuable information to the West.