Why was the Columbian Exchange important to different areas of the world?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The Columbian Exchange was hugely important to many different areas of the world.  It brought benefits to some people and harmed other people tremendously.  Let us look at two of the most important impacts of the Columbian Exchange.

The first of these is a positive impact.  It was enjoyed by the people of Europe.  The Columbian Exchange included the exchange of plants and animals between the Old World and the New.  The Old World benefitted greatly from New World plants.  Though we now know tobacco is harmful, people at the time would have thought that getting tobacco from the New World was a good thing.  They would also have enjoyed new plants such as tomatoes and potatoes.  They would also have come to enjoy chocolate, which comes from a New World tree.

The second of these is a much more negative impact that was felt by the people of the New World.  It is true that they got new animals.  The most important of these was the horse.  However, the most impactful import was germs.  Eurasian germs caused massive epidemics among the American peoples.  Huge percentages of the natives died from exposure to diseases to which they had no resistance. 

In these ways, the Columbian Exchange had different impacts on different areas of the world.

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