Disease In The Columbian Exchange

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Columbus’ discovery of the new world led to the Columbian Exchange which is the significant biological exchange of plants, livestock, and disease, between the new and old worlds caused largely by the European nations’ colonization of the Americas. The Columbian Exchange affected the population of the natives due to the transmission of detrimental diseases brought to the Americas by Europeans. These diseases decimated the native population making it easier for the Europeans to conquer and occupy the Americas and thus significantly outnumber the natives over the years. The Columbian Exchange led to the use of food crops such as potatoes across the world, especially Europe. Potatoes, specifically, supported the increased needs for food for a…show more content…
Old World diseases such as Measles, Mumps and Smallpox killed millions of American Indians. The isolation from the Afro-Eurasian world did not equip the natives with immunity against the multitude of diseases spread through contact with the Europeans upon their arrival in America. While Native Indians had developed remedies for many ailments such as quinine for malaria, they weren’t prepared for the catastrophic impact from contact with infectious European and African diseases. It is estimated that up to 90 percent of Native Americans died from European and African diseases. The native population in the Caribbean islands was almost wiped out while the population in Central Mexico dropped from 10-20 million to about 1 million by 1650. The decimation of the native population from disease helped Europeans establish their empires swiftly across Americas and grow the immigrant population rapidly to outnumber the natives in a few short decades. There was some impact to the Old World and the Europeans as they contacted diseases such as syphilis from contact with the…show more content…
Potato in particular had a significant impact to the Old World. The Europeans discovered Potato through the Incas who were producing them in the Andes. The Incas grew 3000 different kinds of potatoes which helped them feed their population and grow their empire. Even though Europeans did not embrace potatoes initially, it gradually gained acceptance and became a key food source across Europe and the Old World. As most Europeans of the era were farmers, they quickly realized that Potatoes need shorter time to mature and could grow in a variety of soils and don’t need same level of attention and care as grains. As potato cultivation grew rapidly and provided a steady source of food for the population, many farmers migrated to cities to become factory workers which in turn ignited Europe’s industrial revolution and transformed Europe into a continent of manufacturing. Ireland was another nation that adopted Potatoes as a stable and thrived for a couple of centuries with Potato farming to support their population growth. However, the overdependence on potatoes took its toll in 1845-46 when potato blight wreaked havoc on the crop and led to mass starvation. This led to significant migration of the Irish population from Ireland to America, thereby outnumbering the Irish clan in America over those in native

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