The Columbian ExchangeIn A NutshellThe "Columbian Exchange"—a phrase coined by historian Alfred Crosby—describes the interchange of plants, animals, and diseases between the Old World and the Americas following Columbus's arrival in the Caribbean in 1492. For reasons beyond human control, rooted deep in the divergent evolutionary histories of the continents, the Columbian Exchange massively benefited the people of Europe and its colonies while bringing catastrophe to Native Americans.Why Should I Care?The Columbian Exchange: It's a relatively obscure concept, developed by a relatively obscurehistorian. Most people have never even heard of it. Its definition—the transmission of non-native plants, animals, and diseases from Europe to the Americas, and vice versa, after 1492—doesn't sound very sexy. And yet the Columbian Exchange just may be the single most important event in the modern history of the world.
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