The phrase "Columbian Exchange" refers to the interchange and sharing of flora, fauna, people, goods, ideas and disease between the "Old World" Europeans and the "New World" Native Americans. This exchange was initiated by the explorer Christopher Columbus and his voyages but was continued by virtually every explorer thereafter. The Columbian exchange was both mutually beneficial and detrimental to the Europeans and the Native Americans and their homelands. .
The exchange of indigenous crops was one example. The "Indians" shared their maize, potatoes, legumes, chocolate, and squash. These staples when exported to Europe enriched the European's diet and brought their declining population to new heights. The Europeans in turn introduced wheat, rice, sugar and bananas. The latter crops, although a good food source for the Native American's, would ultimately become high dollar exports from the colonies. Some of the crops would do more harm than good, choking out indigenous plants and tapping the lands nutrients. The cross introduction of tobacco and wine grapes would ultimately lead to addictions and new diseases.
The Europeans also introduced domesticated animals to the Native Americans. Animals like cows, goats, chickens, horses and sheep were strange but amazing creatures to the Native Americans. These animals proved to be detrimental to some native species, but also assisted the Native American's by becoming beasts of burden and providing a source of food and clothing. .
The Transatlantic exchange of people would also come into play. The Europeans introduced African slaves to the Americas further diversifying the human races. They also took Native Americans back to Europe as curiosities and novelties. This human exchange was not without it's deadly consequences. Parasites and disease traveled with their human hosts and wreaked havoc. The Europeans introduced the Native Americans to measles, smallpox, and influenza, killing thousands.