What are three effects of the Age of Exploration?

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The Age of Exploration led to the European colonization of the Western Hemisphere. Rather than only trading with native peoples or plundering their settlements, European countries entered into a race to establish permanent settlements in the New World. Spain dominated South America, although Portugal colonized Brazil, and England, France, and Holland set up colonies in North America, as did Spain in places such as Mexico. In the end, however, England, and later the United States, became the dominant ruling power in North America.

Another result of the Age of Exploration was imperialism. Europeans were not content to simply trade with countries like India and China: they wanted to control the governments of these countries and install a military presence of their own. They did so, heedless of the negative impacts they could and did have on existing systems and cultures.

A third effect of the exploration was the establishment of a racial ideology that proclaimed white Europeans superior to other races and cultures. This offered Europeans an ideological justification for taking over other cultures: Europe was forcibly imposing, for the benefit of "inferior" peoples, their mode of civilization. Additionally, racial categorization also rationalized enslaving the races they deemed inferior.

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The Age of Exploration was one of the most important times in the history of the world.  It changed the world in many far-reaching ways.  Let us examine three of them.

  • It caused the Columbian Exchange to happen.  This was the exchange of plants, animals, germs, and other things between the Old World and the New that began when Columbus reached the Americas.  This brought foods like corn, tomatoes, and potatoes to Europe and it brought European germs to the Americas, causing the death of millions of natives.
  • It caused colonization.  When the Europeans “discovered” the rest of the world, they quickly tried to colonize many parts of it.  They felt that “right made might” and that they had the right to colonize any place that they could defeat militarily.
  • It brought about the Atlantic Slave Trade.  When Europeans colonized the New World, many of them decided that they needed slave labor to work plantations there.  This led to the wholesale taking of Africans to work as slaves in the sugar, tobacco, cotton, and other plantations of the New World.
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