“The Columbian Exchange” is a term that refers to a long historical process. The Columbian Exchange can be described as the global diffusion of plants, food crops, animals, human populations, and disease pathogens that took place after the oceanic expeditions of Christopher Columbus and other Europeans. Since indigenous Americans had no immunity to Eurasian diseases, they took a staggering toll: in many cases, as in colonial Mexico, the mortality rate was as high as 90 percent.
Why did some people suffer and some people benefit from the Columbian Exchange?
If epidemic disease and other brutal conditions had not caused such high mortality among indigenous Americans, in what ways might the history of the Americas in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (1500s and 1600s) have been different?
How did the massive death toll among indigenous Americans relate to the origins of the Atlantic slave trade in Africans?
Briefly discuss how events and processes that occurred in the Americas played a role in shaping historical developments in West Africa and East Asia.
Finally, note some ways that the exchange of items as seemingly mundane as new food crops can help shape historical developments over the long term, in both positive and negative ways.