The terms "Columbian exchange" or "Columbian interchange" are used to describe interactions between Europe, Africa, and the Americas after the voyages of Christopher Columbus and subsequent European explorers led to increased communication and trade between the continents.
The term "Columbian" is an adjective based on the name of Christopher Columbus (1451–1506), an Italian explorer who, under the patronage of Isabella of Spain, made a voyage in 1492 to the Americas in order to discover a sea route to India. Although he did not, as planned, reach India, his voyage was the beginning of large-scale European colonization and conquest of the Americas.
The Columbian exchange refers to a broad range of interactions between the Americas, Europe, and Africa. In terms of agriculture, many domestic animals and plants were imported to the Americas by Europeans while American crops such as potato, maize, tomato, and tobacco were imported to Europe. Culturally, the Europeans exported Christianity and planted colonies.
European epidemic diseases such as smallpox wiped out what is estimated as up to ninety percent of some Native American populations. Syphilis was transmitted from the Americas to Europe, but as it killed people more slowly than the European epidemics and had a less dramatic effect.
The slave trade was also part of the Columbia interchange, bringing African peoples and culture to the Americas.