What social factors in the Old World led to the Columbian exchange?

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One social factor was an exploding European population. The people who survived plague outbreaks passed on their immunity to their children. Another factor that led to an exploding European population was the introduction of vegetables from the New World to the European diet. This European overcrowding taxed already strained resources and made the poor even poorer. Many sought an uncertain future in the New World rather than certain poverty in Europe. As more Europeans entered the Americas, they brought their diseases with them, which decimated the Native American population. European diseases were one of the most destructive aspects of the Colombian exchange.

Another social factor was European demand for foreign foods. The spice trade had already made Europeans hungry for exotic foods from Asia. The Americas were originally thought to lie fairly close to the Asiatic spice trade, so many people were willing to try the healthful benefits of New World vegetables. Tobacco was used as a stimulant in the Ottoman Empire, and smoking soon became important for European culture as well, especially among men. This helped to fuel the tobacco trade between the New World and Europe. Many Europeans viewed the Americas as a potential garden of Eden, thus fueling interest in new crops and herbs from the area.

There were many social factors that helped to drive the Colombian Exchange between Europe and the Americas. Most of these social factors were tied to European demographics—many Europeans came to the Americas in order to escape financial hardship or religious persecution back home. The Europeans brought their diseases with them, thus helping them subdue the natives. European perception of the New World also fueled demand for crops and medicinal plants from the Americas. According to some, the New World was close to Asia; to others, the New World was the Garden of Eden. These two ideas helped to fuel the belief that most goods from the New World were beneficial for Europeans. The addition of vitamins from New World vegetables helped to fuel European population growth, thus leading to more Europeans coming to the New World.

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