Smuggling is illegal transport, in particular across a border. Taxes are avoided, or the goods themselves are illegal, or people are transported to a place where they are not allowed to be.
It has a long and controversial history, probably dating back to the first time at which duty was imposed in any form.
In Britain, smuggling became economically significant at the end of the 18th century The high rates of duty levied on wine and spirits, and other luxury goods coming in from mainland Europe at this time made the clandestine import of such goods and the evasion of the duty a highly profitable venture for impoverished fishermen and seafarers. In certain parts of the country such as Cornwall and East Cleveland, the smuggling industry was for many communities more economically significant than legal activities such as farming and fishing. The principal reason for the high duty was the need for the government to finance a number of extremely expensive wars with France and the United States of America.
Smuggling now is considerably diversified: the smuggling of immigrants, armaments, illegal drugs, as well as the historical staples of smuggling, alcohol and tobacco are widespread throughout the Western world. In many parts of the world, particularly the Gulf of Mexico, the smuggling vessel of choice is the go-fast boat. In addition, many smugglers also fly, either on private airplanes or on regularly scheduled airlines, to traffic their illegal products. A large number of suspected smugglers are caught each year by airport police worldwide. The high level of duty levied on alcohol and tobacco in Britain has led to large-scale smuggling through the Channel Tunnel.
Latterly, as many first-world countries have struggled to contain a rising influx of immigrants, the smuggling of people across national borders has become a lucrative extra-legal activity.
Smuggling has been the subject of many works of literature and a list of these can be found here.