The Columbian Exchange

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The Columbian Exchange is the exchange of plants, animals, food, and diseases between Europe and the Americas. In 1492, when Christopher Columbus came to America, he saw plants and animals he had never seen before so he took them back with him to Europe. Columbus began the trade routes which had never been established between Europe and the Americas so his voyages initiated the interchange of plants between the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, which doubled the food crop resources available to people on both sides of the Atlantic.

When the Europeans explored the Americas, they were introduced to new plants, foods, and animals, as well as riches and land. Foods such as corn, white and sweet potatoes, beans, tomatoes, cacao, fruits, peppers, peanuts, sugar cane, and tobacco were many of the new foods enjoyed by Europeans. Some animals such as wild turkeys, llamas, and alpacas, were brought back to Europe. Native American Indians traded furs with the Europeans, which were luxury items throughout Europe. The discovery of lands rich in gold, silver, and other treasures prompted the conquistadors to launch expeditions to the Americas, while reports of newly discovered lands abundant in resources, lured many other Europeans to the Americas in search of a new and better life.

The Native American Indians had no beasts of burden, no plows, no wagons, no means of transportation, and no way to move heavy objects other than by their own power. The Europeans brought over horses, oxen, donkeys, and camels. Horses became very valuable to the Native Americans. For the hunter-gatherers or nomads, the effect was beneficial because the horse enabled them to cover great distances, and hunters could locate and kill the bison more easily. H...

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...g the 1600's, tobacco was so popular that it was even used as money. Over time it was finally realized that the use of tobacco was addictive and more hazardous to ones health than beneficial.

The Columbian Exchange allowed the world to share its resources and discover new ways of living. It opened the doors for new discoveries, trade, and raised the economy of many countries. People throughout Europe were given the opportunity to travel to the newly discovered lands of the Americas and begin new lives.

The Exchange brought about many changes in the world, both good and bad. Although it is true that it was a direct result of Christopher Columbus' voyages to America, we must realize that if it hadn't been Columbus who started it, then it would have been another explorer, returning from their journeys wishing to show the wonders they found in foreign places.

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