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The Columbian Exchange
Transcript of The Columbian Exchange
Effects of the Columbian Exchange on the "
"The Old World", as it is commonly referred to in historical text, is the Eastern Hemisphere, mainly Europe, that was settled long before the Americas.
Animals brought back to Europe after Columbus's explorations were not as useful to the Europeans as their animals were to the Native Americans. Animals introduced to the Old World from the New World include:
Potatoes: originated in the Andes mountains but grew well in European climate. Became a staple food in Europe.
Maize (corn): Improved diets of people in the old world because of nutritional value
The Global Impact of the Columbian Exchange
Although the New World is generally hailed as the biggest beneficiary of the exchange; Europe, Africa,and Asia also received goods that they didn't have before.
Syphilis- transmitted through sexual contact; spread slowly at first but increased transmission throughout the years; still seen today
Good or Bad?
The Columbian Exchange was one of, if not the greatest period of worldwide change in the common era. As with most great transitions, there were drawbacks, such as the spread of disease, but the overriding benefit of the exchange was that it integrated the Old World and the New World from two isolated continents into a cohesive global community and allowed for the continuation of progress due to the spread of ideas, and without the transfer of species, information and cultural elements of different areas during the Columbian exchange, we would not have the technology or the varieties of animals and plants that we see in the world today.
"The most lethal of the pathogens introduced by the Europeans was smallpox, which sometimes incapacitated so many adults at once that deaths from hunger and starvation ran as high as deaths from disease; in several cases, entire tribes were rendered extinct."(Crosby)
According to Alfred Crosby, " the migration of man and his maladies is the chief cause of epidemics. And when migration takes place, those creatures who have beer genetic material has been least tempered by the variety of world diseases" (Crosby 37).
Early Americans had no domesticated animals that often carried diseases, and had spent many years in the cold as they traveled, resulting in much of the disease-causing bacteria to be killed. As a result, "the first Americans and their descendants, perhaps 40 million to 60 million strong by 1492, enjoyed freedom from most of the infectious diseases that plagued populations in Afro-Eurasia for millennia."(McNeill) However, when Europeans came over to America, they brought diseases with them.
Some of the diseases spread during the Columbian Exchange include:
There weren't many diseases in the Americas to begin with, so Europe received few new illnesses.
The New World
Since Europe and the Eastern Hemisphere were far more developed by the time of Columbus' voyages, the Americas received more new species and innovations in the Columbian Exchange.
Animals brought to the old world were exponentially more helpful than the ones brought back to the old world. These include:
It was started by a mistake on the part of Christopher Columbus. He wanted to sail around Africa as an alternate route to the Indies (South and East Asia). He made several crucial mistakes, such as being ignorant to the fact of the Americas' existence, and "he underestimated the circumference of the earth by 25 percent." (Wood) When he landed, he thought he had reached the Indies, so he named the natives he found there "indians" when in fact he had reached Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic).
The Columbian Exchange, though it had its drawbacks, was one of the greatest times of cultural progress in history and without it, the global community would be fractured and technological progress would be uneven.