Colombian Exchange: old and new worlds first share crops, animals, and disease

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The Colombian Exchange was the first sharing of crops, animals, culture, and education after the New World and the Old World met for the first time. There was also the exchange of disease.

The Colombian Exchange occurred immediately after Spanish Explorer Christopher Columbus discovered the New World of the Americas in 1492. The Old World, comprising of Europe, Asia and Africa had been in contact for thousands of years, however, zero contact had occurred with the New World of the Americas had occurred.

The Americas were first introduced to animals including cattle, chickens, goats, horses, pigs, and rabbits. Plants and crops included wheat, onions, ginger, coffee, broccoli, barley, bananas, and apples. Diseases introduced in the Colombian Exchange to the New World were chickenpox, cholera, measles, malaria, and smallpox.

The Old World was first introduced to animals including turkeys, alpacas, and llamas. Plants and crops included tomato, cotton, corn, tobacco, vanilla, cocoa, chili, avocado and beans such as pinto, kidney, and lima. Diseases introduced to the Old World included syphilis.

The Exchange was not completely mutually beneficial. The Europeans coming to the Americas also brought a number of disease with them which had a disastrous effect on the native inhabitants of the New World had not been subjected to these diseases before and so their immune systems could not fight them. Illnesses as simple as the common cold killed the native peoples of the Americas in their millions. A similarly devastating disease did not affect the Europeans.

Much of the Colombian Exchange was not intentional, such as rats which were first introduced to the Americas after coming across the oceans in ships.

The Colombian Exchange had a major impact on world cuisine, with Italian cooking being introduced to the tomato for the first time, as well as Europeans being introduced to chocolate and tobacco. The yeast used to make most lager beer originated in South America.

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