Columbian exchange and the new world

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The Coming of the Europeans

Prior to the 15th century, the Europeans did not know much about the rest of the earth outside Europe. The 15th century was characterized by a wave of curiosity and adventure that was eminent in the continent of Europe. Interests in new things such as science, exploring and mathematics, among others became higher than before. This marked the beginning of new voyages, especially to the East, so as to explore the new interests in the world that existed outside Europe (Alvar 1). The coming of the Europeans was, therefore, influenced by their curiosity to find out about the strange tales they had heard about other people living in faraway lands. They resolved to discover the rest of the world in such of great wealth and profitable markets. Their interactions with many natives were limited to such activities, but, also included slave trade (Cartier 1). The Europeans also wanted to teach the natives their religion of Christianity and possibly convert them. They were committed to teaching the natives how to behave in civilized ways, just like they thought Europeans did (Ganong 1).

The Columbian Exchange

The Columbian Exchange, commonly referred to as the Grand Exchange, saw the prevalent exchange of human populations, cultures, ideas, plants, communicable diseases and animals between the Western hemisphere and the Eastern hemisphere experienced after 1492. This was one of the most significant and memorable events in world culture, agriculture and history (Alvar 1).

Positive Impacts of the Columbian Exchange to the New World

The Columbian Exchange has both positive and negative impacts, both to the New World and to the Old World. One positive impact of the Columbian Exchange to the New World was the fact that domesticated animals such as cats, camels, chicken, cows, horses, rabbits and sheep came from the Old World to the New World (Ganong 1). This gave an opportunity to Native Americans to adopt a nomadic lifestyle. This also provided alternative sources of food to the New World. There was also the introduction of new crops to the New World such as cabbages, carrots, coffee, cinnamon and garlic among many others (Alvar 1).

Negative Impacts of the Columbian Exchange to the New World

Some of the negative impacts that the Columbian Exchange had on the New World included the spread of infectious diseases such as chicken pox, cholera, malaria, typhoid, measles and leprosy among others. The native people in the new world were devastated by these diseases, which led to the death of very many members of their communities (Cartier 1).

Positive Impacts of the Columbian Exchange to the Old World

The Old World was also affected in a number of ways. One positive impact the Old World faced as a result of the Columbian Exchange was the fact that some domesticated animals were introduced to the Old World. Examples included turkeys, ilamas and the guinea pig. These provided new sources of food, among other benefits. New plants were also introduced to the Old World as a result of the Columbian Exchange. Good examples include tomatoes, maize, potatoes, rice and vanilla among others. Most of these plants are commonly used all over the world today as sources of food and good nutritional sources.

Negative Impacts of the Columbian Exchange to the Old World

One negative impact that the Old World faced as a result of the Columbian Exchange was the introduction of slave trade. Many societies were devastated as a result of this. Diseases such as syphilis also originated from the New World and negatively impacted the Old World. As a result of nutritional plants being taken back to Europe, there was an explosion in population, which negatively impacted the Old World. This also had a negative impact because the Europeans destroyed their own crop lands so as to create space to accommodate the growing population.

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  1. Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, “Indians of the Rio Grande” (1528-1536). Print.
  2. Cartier, Jacques, ed by Biggar, Henry. The Journals of Jacques Cartier. University of Toronto Press: 1993. Print.
  3. Ganong, William, trans. New Relation of Gaspesia, with Customs and Religion of the Gaspesia Indians [1691]. Toronto: 1910. 103-106. Print.
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