What was the Columbian Exchange?

  • The global diffusion of plants/crops, animals, human populations, and disease that took place after voyages of exploration by European mariners
  • It's consequences were profound and possibly the most drastic of any of the previous biological exchanges

Main Connection

The Columbian Exchange was most beneficial for the Europeans because they gained new resources that not only increased population but created economic stimulation. Population increase led to colonization and building of empires. Africa also gained new resources. However the Columbian exchange marked the increase of a new part of African history, the slave trade. The Americans gained more resources and tools at a terrible price. When the Europeans came over they brought disease that wiped out almost entire populations.


What was Exchanged?

From Europe and Africa to the Americas (plants/crops and animals)
  • Goats
  • Horses
  • Wheat
  • vines
  • Cattle
  • Sheep
  • Chickens
  • Pigs
  • Chili Peppers
  • Sugar Cane

From America to Europe and Africa (plants/crops and animals)
  • Manioc
    • high yield and thrived in tropical soil
    • especially important to Africa
  • Squash
  • Beans
  • beans
  • tomatoes
  • peppers
  • peanuts
  • papayas
  • guavas
  • avocados
  • pineapples
  • Corn/Maize
  • Potatoes
  • Cacao
  • tobacco

It was not just crops and animals that migrated across the Atlantic. Diseases and weaponry also had a major impact. European weapons were superior to the native populations and played a major role how the two cultures' interacted. Disease mainly negatively affected those native to the Americas.

Diseases transferred from Europe to the Americas included:
  • small pox (was the most severe, caused most death)
  • measles
  • diphtheria
  • whooping cough
  • influenza

The General Effects / Overall (source: History Textbook)

Biological Exchanges
  • The lands of Europe, Africa, and the Americas were drastically different
    • migration of plants, animals, diseases, ect had major impacts
  • European diseases spread through the Americas who were newly exposed
    • caused extremely high mortality rate

Epidemic Diseases and Population Decline
  • spread in infection and diseases in the early sixteenth century caused heavy demographic losses
  • The Inca empire population decreased from 13 million in 1492 to 2 million by 1600
  • 1519: smallpox took the Aztec Empire
  • 1530: smallpox and various other diseases moved throughout the Americas
  • indigenous population in Mexico declined by about 90%
  • occurred after the Spanish conquered the area
  • Small pox specifically was easily transmittable
    • disease transmitted down south to Argentina to the northern Great Lakes
  • After all the population decline Europeans needed labor to cultivate new crops in the Americas, but there were no natives left, which led to Europeans looking to Africa and beginning to import slaves from there

Food Crops and Animals
  • Even with epidemic diseases population eventually increased
  • New crops and animals
    • resulted in higher food supply
    • more animal power
  • Wheat could grow in Northern American plains, where maize could not
  • Cattle also had a large impact, adding variety to American diets
American Crops
  • tobacco originated in the Americas
  • added variety to diets as well and nutrients
  • Potatoes and maize were popular in Europe

  • Spread human population and cargo through transoceanic migration
  • Most migrants were slaves from Africa* (*before colonization of "New England" area)
  • Migrations influenced modern world (look at us today)

Small Pox disease affecting the Natives

Columbian Exchange's Effect on Europe

  • the amount of rural areas increased the amount of farm land and private property went up
  • trade increased and population class divided
  • labor became specialized
  • Population increased in Europe

America's nutritional food effect on Europe

Impact on Americas and Europe (Spanish)

  • Horses were key animals in the New World
  • Flourished there because they had no predators.
  • Key to the Americas because it helped in battle because it allowed soldiers to fight from higher grounds and allowed for faster travel

  • Caused the development of plantations in many of the Spanish colonies
  • One of the two key products for the Columbian exchange
  • Sugarcane came from India to the Caribbean
  • Needed labor: used enslaved/forced labor because the Natives declined to work
  • Plantation systems were cruel, threatening labor and changed the natural landscape (environmental)

  • Second key product of the Columbian Exchange
  • Monopolized by the Spanish
    • Controlled the mines in Mexico and the Andes Mountains of Peru
    • Contained cruel system of forced labor
  • Used similar encomienda system
  • Depended on natives until a shortage of labor
    • Labor shifted --> used African slaves (provided by the Portuguese)

Interactive Links

Interactive Map
Smallpox Connections

Created by: Jessica Helmstetter, Kevin Bruno, Bryan Abbot
Evaluators: Austin T. (Very nice job, good pictures that were easy to understand, removed 1 thing that was off topic and fixed up the horse section to sound a little better, as well as 1 spelling error in intro to disease), Harley, Natalie, Garrett Eyer-I thought your review was easy to read and it really got the key points across, bullets make it enjoyable and the interactive links are a plus. Overall, a job well done. , Christian Dudley, Cody Kitchner