The Columbian exchange refers to a period of worldwide exchange of people goods, technology, ideas, and diseases between the Old and New Worlds. The cultural diffusion of various nations transformed both European and American ways of life. Beginning after Columbus’ discovery in 1492, this exchange existed throughout the years of exploration and expansion, impacting the social and cultural composition of both sides of the Atlantic.
Many effects of the Columbian Exchange on both the Old and New World existed. One of those effects from the Old World to the New World was the spread of various diseases, including smallpox, measles, mumps, typhus, and chicken pox. It remains unsure how much of the population was decimated as result of European arrival, but estimates place it between fifty and ninety percent. Side effects of the spread of diseases include starvation due to lack of agricultural laborers necessary for growing crops, numerous deaths of leaders, and rebellion. The New World then transmitted sexually transmitted disease, such as venereal syphilis, to the Old World via the sailors returning from the Americas. Syphilis was thus responsible for conflicts such as rebellion, especially when King Henry Ⅷ was unable to produce a male heir, and instead produced the murderous Bloody Mary, who angered many English individuals.
Another effect was the importing and exporting of animals to and from the two worlds. The imports to the Americas, which consisted of pigs, cows, and horses, were revolutionary. These animals drastically changed the food supply providing a consistently growing abundance of meat. This massive amount of meat, and the plentiful land for agriculture and grazing meant that Europeans in the Americas rarely experienced famine. In Addition large animals, such as horses, cows, and oxen, allowed for more efficient transportation of good and individuals, and the remaking of culture, creating the stereotypical American Indian riding horseback across the Great Plains.
Plants, such as wheat and grapes, were also transported from the Old World to the New World. More importantly, New World plants, including chillies, corn beans, potatoes, avocados, tomatoes, peanuts, and blueberries, radically changed the lives of millions of Africans, Asians, and Europeans. These high calorie foods caused individuals to not face famine, the population to double between 1650 and 1850, and animals to receive more food. Live of both humans and animals were improved by this exchange of plants.
Lastly, the Columbian exchange led to the repopulation of the New World following the disease devastation of the initial, and better nutrition allowed the population of the Old World to grow, which in turn placed population pressure on Europe and Asia, This population pressure led to the increase of individuals traveling to the Americas. During this process humans became more genetically, as well as ethnically, interconnected, but it also led to the atrocities of Atlantic slavery, and the replacing of American social and political structure with European systems of religion, language, culture, and government.
Although the Columbian exchange had some negative effects on the world, including the devastation of the population, the widespread of slavery of Africans, and the hurting of the environment in plants crops in incorrect locations, it did make the world better. This exchange allowed for a worldwide population increase, the improvement of Natives’ lives, and the less prevalence of famines. With out this diffusion of culture, the world not be as advanced as it is today. The exchange and exploration were inevitable to occur, and therefore the earlier it occurred, the longer the effects had to settle and make a large impact. The increased communication, trade, cultural diffusion, and exploration has positively impacted the past world, and continues to impacts the lives of humans today.