The age of exploration had many varied effects on the countries involved, mainly Spain, France, and England. By establishing a prosperous empire in South America by conquering the native people, Spain became vastly wealthy off of the gold collected by its native subjects. However, since the native people were dying off rapidly due to the foreign diseases brought over by the Conquistadors, as well as malnutrition and fatigue, Spain and Portugal were the first to introduce slavery to the New World by replacing them with African slaves brought over by Portuguese slave traders. The silver mining by these slaves caused world trade to increase. Often, silver brought to Europe from America was then traded with China and other Asian countries, making silk, porcelain, and Indian spices more prevalent in Europe. Products from America that became popular in Europe included corn, potatoes, pineapples, and sugar cane. Many cultures spread and combined with others: Spanish missionaries converted natives to Christianity, which then combined the new Christian beliefs with the natives’ cultural traditions. Another example, Arabian coffee with American sugar became quite popular throughout Europe.
Although saying that anyone who crossed the Atlantic (at least when referring to modern theories) truly discovered America is ridiculous, I believe that the first to do so was Leif Eriksson and his group of Vikings whose settlement was found in Canada. According to the Greenlander saga and the Eric saga, his father, Eric the Red, a Viking outlaw, discovered Greenland. In order to establish himself as a man separate from his father, Leif sailed to the west in order to discover his own land. He sailed west because there had been a rumor in Greenland for the past fifteen years of a merchant sailing from Iceland to Greenland whose ship had been blown off course in a storm. According to the rumor, the merchant claimed that there were three separate lands west of Greenland....
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