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The Columbian Exchange

             By definition, the term "Columbian Exchange" refers to the transfer of peoples, animals, plants, and disease between the Old and New Worlds. This definition is exactly right. The Columbian Exchange implemented many new things that have forever changed both the culture of the Amerindians and the Europeans. The major areas that the Exchange influenced are the areas of animals, plants, and disease. .
             As a result of the Columbian Exchange, there was a vast exchange of animals that altered the diet and lifestyle in both regions. The introduction of European livestock had a dramatic impact on the environments and the cultures of the New World. Since they were faced with few natural predators, cattle, pigs, horses, and sheep multiplied rapidly on the open spaces of the Americas. Where Old World livestock spread most rapidly, environmental changes were the most dramatic. Many priests and officials noted the destructive impact that marauding livestock had on Amerindian agriculturalists. On the plains, wild cattle provided indigenous peoples with abundant supplies of meat and hides. Even in centers of European settlement, individual Amerindians, turned European animals to their own advantage by becoming muleteers, cowboys, and sheepherders. Of all the animals exchanged, none carried a greater impact than the horse. The horse allowed Amerindians to hunt more effectively and also increased military efficiency. The horse revolutionized the cultures of Araucanian and Pampas peoples in South America as well.
             The exchange of plants also had great effects for both peoples. All the staples of southern European agriculture were being grown in the Americas in a remarkably short time. These included wheat, olives, grapes, and garden vegetables. African and Asian crops such as bananas, coconuts, breadfruit, and sugar cane would also be introduced as well. Amerindians remained loyal to their old staples, but they also incorporated many Old World foods into their diet as well.

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