The Columbian Exchange

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During the late 1400's, life was simple for the Indians. Hunting, gathering, and hard work amongst the men and women of the tribes was successful for them. Horticulture played a crucial role in many Native American cultures and the survival of their people. They were content with living off of the environment and possessing plots of land to practice their beliefs and reproduce their people. On the other hand, the European's were busy exploring the world, advancing in technology, and spreading their religious beliefs. Christendom and Islam were out to control the world and its inhabitants; so when Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492, the cultures of the Eastern and Western Hemisphere's met for the first time and changed the history of the world. The Columbian Exchange was the transfer of plants, animals, minerals, and lifestyle of the European and African lands to the Americas, and vice versa.

Arguably, infectious diseases had the most impact on the world following the initiation of contact by Columbus and his men. Native Americans suffered 80-90% population losses in most of America with influenza, typhoid, measles, and smallpox taking the greatest toll on them. More developing diseases such as tuberculosis, syphilis, and pneumonia would be compounded by nutritional, sanitation, and labor conditions in colonial America. Disease also traveled back eastward with Columbus and fellow explorers, affecting large numbers of European men and women.

Another contrast of the two cultures was the ecology and its species. The plants and animals of the tropical continents of Africa and South America differed sharply from each other and from those in any other parts of the world, while the ecology of the more northerly continents, Eurasia and North America, differed not so sharply, but clearly differed. Examples of animals coming from the Old World to the New World are horses, pigs, goats, chicken... Continue Reading