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The Columbian Exchange Review


In the entire history of mankind, no event has been given enormous credit like the Columbian exchange. This has been done for a good reason. The Columbian exchange triggered the largest swap of elements within the ecosystem. Much of the world we see today is the way it is largely due to the Columbian exchange. The year 1492 is equally significant given that this is the year that Christopher Columbus set foot in the western hemisphere (Crosby 1972, pp.19-21).The arrival of Columbus marked the beginning of this remarkable historical period. Other important historical happenings also took place in 1492.In this essay; the impact of the Columbian exchange on the life of mankind will be examined. Other historically significant phenomena that took place in the year 1492 will also be looked into.

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To start with, the Columbian exchange is credited with the introduction of new crops and animals to the western hemisphere (Harrison 2006,p.1).Through the biological rue of natural selection, there were crops in the western hemisphere that had low production due to the lack of compatibility with the conditions. The people who came from the eastern hemisphere came with new crops as well as new animals that were able to survive and do well in this region. This led to plenty of food resulting from these new crops and animals.

The eastern hemisphere also benefited from the western hemisphere in the same way through the transfer of crops and animals from the western hemisphere. These new species that were introduced into the western hemisphere led to an increase in food production and the resultant population explosion. These items were exchanged by means of peaceful trade and in some cases through force. It is also worth mentioning that dangerous plants that are still undesirable weeds were also part of the exchange.

Apart from the above, the Columbian exchange is known for having led to the spread of numerous deadly diseases. Infectious diseases such as yellow fever, measles and typhoid circulated freely in the two areas. Areas that never had these diseases received them and the people suffered greatly (Crosby 1972, pp.32-34). The outcome of the spread of these deadly diseases is the dramatic reduction in populations where immunity against these diseases was extremely low. The Europeans who came to the Americas are known to have come with a number of germs that killed nearly 90% of the local population which was made up of Native Indians. Both hemispheres suffered from diseases as a result of the Columbian exchange, and therefore they both lost a percentage of their people to these diseases.

Other than crops, animals and diseases, the Columbian exchange acted as a great exporting ship for culture. The people who came from the eastern hemisphere came with the traditions of the east and introduced them to the westerners. The westerners also shared their traditions with the easterners. The easterners who went back to their homes after spending some time in the west took elements of western culture with them. The westerners who moved to the east also acted as cultural ambassadors for the west. The most important cultural elements that were exchanged during this time included the style of dressing, the traditional ceremonies, language, and military knowledge. This helped bridge the cultural gap that existed between the western hemisphere and the eastern hemisphere to some degree.

Apart from the Columbian exchange, the year 1492 witnessed the expulsion of Jews from Spain (Roth 1994, pp.79-81).The expulsion was not a one day incident. It was a climax of a long running conflict in which the rest of the population hated the Jews for their industry. The feeling was that this group had taken over all the wealth in the country. The hatred had began in the 1200 and by 1390,it was at high level.1492 was a peak when most of the Jews were expelled while others were killed or forced to be take up Christianity. The impact of this expulsion or forced conversion is that mot Jews chose to run away from Spain (Gerber 1994, pp.45-47).They moved to various parts of the world in search of safety. There are some who went o France, Egypt, the Americas and Turkey. This disturbance in Spain had a widespread negative impact whereby the economy was disorganized and everything left in disarray. It took a long time to restore order.

Due to the expulsion, the Jews got trapped in a long trend of experiencing hatred and rejection. This ended in killings and expulsion in most cases. The most recent case of mistreatment of Jews is the horrendous experience in Germany commonly known as the Holocaust. In this case, Jews as well as members of the society who were considered outsiders to the German culture such as blacks were sent to concentration camps where they died as a result of beatings, poor working conditions and hunger.

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In conclusions, the year 1492 was quite eventful. The Columbian Exchange was one of the biggest events that took place at this time. This exchange led to exchange of crops and animals between the western and eastern hemisphere, and transfer of diseases.1492 is also known for the expulsion of Jews from Spain, a phenomenon that led to chaos in Spain and the scattering of Spanish Jews in various parts of the world.

Reference List

Crosby, Alfred. (1972). The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492 (30th Anniversary ed.). New York: Greenwood Publishing Group.

Gerber, Jane.1994.Jews of Spain: A History of the Sephardic Experience. New York: Free Press.

Harrison, Susan. “The Columbian Exchange: Food, Livestock and Disease All Crossed the Atlantic.” (2006). Web.

Roth, Norman.1994. Jews, Visigoths and Muslims in Medieval Spain: Cooperation and Conflict. Leiden: Brill.

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