It wasn't all that long ago that global investing was an activity that was restricted to only the wealthiest U.S. investors. If you weren't one of America's ultra-rich, you weren't able to access foreign markets. That began to change in the 1950s, with the advent of international and global mutual funds, and access further expanded over the next three decades with the introduction of single-country closed-end funds . Today, thanks to the recent explosion in exchange-traded funds (ETFs), investing in overseas stocks is now almost as easy as targeting a given market sector here at home. In fact, although it has been a mere 17 years since the first ETF began trading in the United States (in 1993), the most recent count finds more than 290 international, regional and foreign-country-focused funds listed on the various U.S. exchanges - enough to entice any investor with even a modest yen for overseas portfolio exposure.