Impacts of the Columbian Exchange
Impacts of the Columbian Exchange

Impacts of the Columbian Exchange

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The Columbian Exchange refers to the widespread transfer of cultural and biological exchanges. Culture, plants, animals, technology, and even diseases were transferred from one continent to another. This kind of exchange happened during the 15th and 16th century. The Columbian Exchange tremendously transformed the way of life of the Europeans and Native Americans. The lives of Africans was also changed because they also experienced new things like new plants, animals, people, and even diseases they never knew existed. The Africans were also traded as slaves during the Columbian Exchange. After Columbus discovery of a new world in 1492, the years that followed were of expansion and discovery.

The Columbian Exchange is considered to be one of the most spectacular and significant ecological event in history. There were new plants that were associated with all the exchange that happened between the New and the Old World. People in East Europe had not seen plants such as maize, sweet potatoes, and white potatoes. New animals were also introduced in the Americas from the Old World and these include horses, goats, cattle, and sheep. The Old World had a lot of domesticated animals and the population of both animals and humans was dense as compared to the new world where people were scarcely scattered. As such, there were many different kinds of diseases in the Old world and as they came to the New World, they came along with them. This was one of the most devastating impact of the Columbian Exchange on the Native Americans.

The Old World brought a lot of different types of disea

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ses in the New World aforementioned earlier and this had a catastrophic effect on the Native Americans. The Native Americans were not as densely populated as the Europeans in the Old world and therefore there were few diseases and they had developed immunity to these. However, the Europeans brought with them new diseases that proved to be fatal to the Natives who were not immune to them. The large part of the Native American population was wiped by new diseases brought from the Old World. For instance, in Mexico, the population dropped by more than 90% especially after Cortes arrived in 1519.

In order for the population in Mexico to go back to normal, it took about 350 years to return to the 1519 level. Various diseases killed the Native Americans such as northern outbreaks, epidemic influenza, typhoid, dysentery, measles, diphtheria, yellow fever, cholera and small pox just to mention a few. Influenza was even more fatal than most diseases and it claimed a lot of Native lives.

The advantage that the non-Natives had over the Natives is that they had an easy access to medical care, they could leave a community during an epidemic, and their immune systems not much susceptible to most diseases. The Natives of North America were particularly wiped by diseases such as tuberculosis andbacterial pneumonia.

In addition, new plants were introduced to the Americas like tobacco, sweet, and white potatoes, and sugarcane. Potatoes and tobacco came from England and Ireland even before 1600.New crops were brought from Africa to Asia like forage crops, root crops, vegetables, fruits

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and nuts.

As the people from the Old World came to the New World, they brought with them species and subspecies of plants, animals, and diseases. Human diseases were not the only types of diseases brought by the Europeans. Plants’ diseases were also brought like germs and weeds. However human diseases were the most prevalent and deadliest of all. Nearly all the diseases that were brought about by the Europeans were communicable by air and touch and this made it easy for the new diseases to spread very quickly.

The Native Americans were not the only people who were adversely affected by the diseases brought by the Europeans. The Europeans were also affected by diseases from the New World, diseases they had never known existed. Examples of such diseases include Syphilis. Syphilis had a negative impact on the Europeans and it was spread through sexual contact. Sailors who came to the New World contacted the diseases especially because they spent a long time in seas without women. Syphilis epidemic spread throughout Europe and many people perished from it. Even though tuberculosis and syphilis were already familiar in the Old World, their spread increased and claimed a lot of European lives.

However, over time, people from both the New and the Old Worlds came to learn of the ways in which various diseases were spread and this is how they somehow managed to control the spread of various diseases. For those who managed to survive some of these diseases, their immune systems became stronger and adapted to them making it hard for the diseases to kill in case of recurrence.

Bibliography

  • Carney, Judith A. “AFRICAN RICE IN THE COLUMBIAN EXCHANGE.” Journal Of African History 42, no. 3 (November 2001): 377. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed March 29, 2016).
  • Grennes, Thomas. “THE COLUMBIAN EXCHANGE AND THE REVERSAL OF FORTUNE.” CATO Journal 27, no. 1 (Winter2007 2007): 91-107. Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed March 29, 2016).
  • Lovell, W. George. “`Heavy Shadows and Black Night’: Disease and Depopulation in Colonial Spanish America.” Annals Of The Association Of American Geographers 82, no. 3 (September 1992): 426.
  • Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed March 29, 2016).
  • McGinley, M. Columbian exchange: plants, animals, and disease between the Old and New World. http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/151313/
  • Piper, Liza, and John Sandlos. “A broken frontier: ECOLOGICAL IMPERIALISM IN THE CANADIAN NORTH.” Environmental History 12, no. 4 (October 2007): 759-795. GreenFILE, EBSCOhost (accessed March 29, 2016).
  • McGinley, M. Columbian exchange: plants, animals, and disease between the Old and New World.
  • Grennes, Thomas. “THE COLUMBIAN EXCHANGE AND THE REVERSAL OF FORTUNE.” CATO Journal 27, no. 1 (Winter2007 2007): 91-107. p. 93
  • Piper, Liza, and John Sandlos. “A broken frontier: ECOLOGICAL IMPERIALISM IN THE CANADIAN NORTH.” Environmental History 12, no. 4 (October 2007): 759-795. p. 766 Ibid p. 767
  • Carney, Judith A. “AFRICAN RICE IN THE COLUMBIAN EXCHANGE.” Journal Of African History 42, no. 3 (November 2001): 377. p. 378.
  • McGinley, M. Columbian exchange: plants, animals, and disease between the Old and New World.
  • Lovell, W. George. “`Heavy Shadows and Black Night’: Disease and Depopulation in Colonial Spanish America.” Annals Of The Association Of American Geographers 82, no. 3 (September 1992): 426. p. 430
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