Effects of Columbian Exchange

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The Effects of the Columbian Exchange

It was the year 1492, and a man by the name of Christopher Columbus set sail from Spain where he then landed in the present day Americas, sparking one of the most important events in the world, the Columbian exchange. The Columbian exchange has shaped the world to what it is today with the exchange of goods from the Old World to the New World, and vice versa. The Columbian exchange caused numerous short and long-term effects in the Americas and many other parts of the world.

The short-term effects of the Columbian exchange included the outbreak of disease, which led to a sudden drop in the population of the indigenous peoples. In the beginning of the sixteenth century Spanish and Portuguese explorers brought with them “…infectious and other contagious diseases such as smallpox, measles, whopping cough, diphtheria, and influenza.” The most infamous and devastating disease was smallpox, which proved to be a very painful and deadly disease for the indigenous people. However, Europeans in the New World did not experience a high smallpox death rate due to the immunity they had established from living in Europe. Because of the diseases that ran rampant with the arrival of Europeans in the Americas, indigenous populations saw a sudden and rapid decline. For example, “Beginning in 1519, the epidemic of smallpox ravaged the Aztec empire in combination with other diseases, and within a century the indigenous population of Mexico had declined by as much as 90%, from about 17 million to 1.3 million” These epidemics tore through the population of the Americas. The total death toll due to diseases was estimated to be in the multi-millions thereby significantly dropping the total world population. However, this massive population drop proved to only be temporary. For instance, in the year 1500 the world population stood at 425 million, but by 1800, 300 years later, the human population stood all the way at 900 million. The...
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