Columbian Exchange And Its Impact On Global Trade
Global trade had many effects on the world between 1450 and 1750 C.E. Many of these effects were positive as well as negative such as the exchange of plants and animals between regions and life-threatening diseases. Before global trade, the world was not aware of the different peoples and/or cultures it consisted of. Although the world was not knowledgeable of the various ways the world could unite or interact, the development of global trade fixed this problem and even created some.
Before the use of global commerce, different regions of the world remained focused on themselves and trade only flowing around them. For example, the Silk Road was a trade route that carried many cultures and foods such as Buddhism, wools, gold, silver, Christianity, etc. all over the continent of Europe. It connected China and Western Europe and went along the northern perimeters of Persia and India. The Silk Road was significant because it helped for ideas, cultures, and different goods to spread across the region. It also gave people a view of what other areas were like which then lead to mass global trading and interaction between these areas. One of the major products traded along this route was silk, which was designed in China. There was also some negative elements that occurred along this route. The bubonic plague along with many other diseases traveled on the Silk Road, killing millions of people for years. While the use of this trade route was not worldwide and only covered much of Europe, later in time, the Columbian Exchange would take place and spark the first international trade route.
In 1492, Christopher Columbus arrived in the Americas with the mindset of reaching Asia, China, and India for their richness in gold, spices and other goods. While he didn’t end up in these areas, he created something greater that shaped the world as it is today when he landed in the new world. The discovery of this land then created what was called the Columbian Exchange, a massive global trading system that included much of Europe, West Africa, the Caribbean, Brazil, Peru, and South-Eastern America. The exchange of plants, animals, cultures, diseases, etc. occurred on this trade route which modified these parts of the world. The Americas didn’t have foods other regions had; the Columbian Exchange fixed this by transferring foods to America and food from America to other regions. This is why today we have rice, fruits, tomatoes, horses, cattle, pigs, wheat, coffee, and much more. The Americas also gave Europe many new items such as avocados, peppers, pineapples, corn, and much more.
Another effect of global trade was the transporting of laborers or slaves around the world. In the 1570s, the Portuguese organized sugar plantations in Brazil. This created a demand for laborers to work on these sugar plantations. This exchange of slaves was then known as the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Soon, slaves were transferred all over the route, beginning in Europe and Africa, and traveling into the Americas to provide cultivation of tobacco, sugar, cotton, and other valuable goods. Millions of laborers were transported into the Americas and marketed as slaves. The use of slavery provided the work power for the development of the modern world economy which is why it was so significant.
But not everything that was traded ended up being positive. Diseases caught hold of the Columbian Exchange, infecting and killings millions. Due to contact between Europeans and the Native Americans, many diseases such as smallpox, influenza, measles, etc. were produced and infected people everywhere along this trade network. The Native Americans were mainly affected by these deadly diseases because they never had the vulnerability to these diseases before which resulted in them possessing no immunization to them. This caused a huge decrease in populations throughout the regions especially in the Americas where approximately 90% of the Native Americans died due to disease.
As has been noted, there were many effects on Western Europe and the Americas including many other regions over time in regard to global trade. These effects shaped the world as it is today by the both these regions and many others having materials, foods, plants, and animals that weren’t there before. There were also similarities and differences from the Americas and Western Europe during this time. The introduction to distinct animals induces overgrazing in the Americas while animals in Europe had only a slight impact on the environment. There were also many diseases that spread throughout these two regions including many more which decreased the majority of populations around the world. Since we are now knowledgable of the different people and things the world consists of, we can trade, travel, and do so much more with other areas because of the use of global trade.