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Western Civilization | Columbian Exchange

A long time ago, because of the continental drift the Old World and New World were apart, dividing the Northern and Southern parts of America from Europe, Asia and Africa. However, everything changed after the Christopher Columbus’ voyage in 1492 due to the so called “Columbian Exchange”. Thus, this Columbian exchange is often regarded as a global exchange of everything from animals to culture. People started exchanging various animals, such as horses, cows and crops, including American corn, potato, chili peppers, peanuts, cacao and sugar. In addition, according to BBC History, this exchange included a number of cultural aspects and popular ideas, such as liberty, ecology and unbelievable bravery as well as cruelty and greed. What’s more, human populations, for example, slaves were also exchanged. Hence, we may say that is was a biological and a cultural exchange at the same time.(Wood, 2011)

As to the consequences of this exchange, it should be mentioned that it included both advantages and disadvantages. According to Nunn and Qian (2010), the most significant advantages we may list are the following: the discovery of new metal suppliers, the global exchange of animals, the appearance of a great variety of unknown before products , both for the Old World and for the New World, such as cocoa, potato, peanuts, chili peppers, paprika and tobacco as well. Besides, since then the mental landscapes have become bigger as previously people didn’t know about the existence of the other parts of the world.

It should be also said that the New World was conquered greatly by the Spanish, influencing the global history a lot.

However, there were a number of disadvantages regarding this global exchange. The major problems were the following: the widespread transmission of various diseases, causing devastation. Europeans came to the New World with several fatal viruses and bacteria, for instance, smallpox or measles, and cholera, and Native Americans didn’t feature any immunity for those diseases. (Denevan, 1976). Furthermore, people from the New World fought to keep their freedom, as a result, many people died.

In conclusion, the Columbian exchange brought both positive and negative influences on the whole population of Earth. Thus, the significant increase of different sorts of products, animals and metal suppliers are regarded as the positive ones. Meanwhile, people exchanged a number of diseases and as a result, many people died. However, if comparing both advantages and disadvantages of Columbian exchange, it is obvious that it features more pluses as the most significant aspect are the following: it connected the two major parts, brought the development of the remote communities and made the world and people close to each other.


Denevan, William M. (1976). Introduction to The Native Population of the Americas in 1492, ed. William M. Denevan, 1–12. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
Nunn, N., Qian, N., (2010), The Columbian Exchange: A History of Disease, Food, and Ideas, Journal of Economic Perspectives, 163-188. Retrieved November 28, 2011 from http://www.economics.harvard.edu/faculty/nunn/files/Nunn_Qian_JEP_2010.pdf
Wood, M., The Story of the Conquistadors, Colombian exchange, British History, BBC, Retrieved November 28, 2011 from http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/tudors/conquistadors_01.shtml