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1. What was the Colombian Exchange? Discuss with regard to a) disease, pest, and the demographic and b) the geography of crops and domesticated animals. Thanks so much.

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1. What was the Columbian Exchange?
In the late fifteenth century, European voyages back and forth across the Atlantic initiated the "Columbian Exchange" — that is, the exchange of foods, diseases, plants, animals, and peoples between the Americas and the "Old World." (see attached article). Its effects were no less than monumental in terms of economics, the environment, demography, and culture. http://www.learner.org/channel/courses/worldhistory/unit_video_16-1.html
In 1992 there was an international recognition of the Quincentennial of Columbus' voyage to America. This 500th(1492-1992) anniversary was viewed with disdain and downright hostility by Native American communities. However, before the planned events various academic and government institutions in the Americas and abroad met with scholars and Native American leaders to seek ways to celebrate in a more sensitive spirit to all people. Ultimately, by the time the celebrations took place considerable diffusion and compromise resulted in an emphasis of the effects of one of the most dramatic and influential events in human history. The emphasis tended to focus on the 'Columbian Exchange', a phrase and concept taken from a book written in 1972 by social historian Alfred W. Crosby. The Columbian Exchange was both biological and cultural (http://daphne.palomar.edu/scrout/colexc.htm)
This exchange and its effects on the world became the focus of the quincentennial. Subsequently, the Columbian Exchange has become a part of many history texts and courses. The five hundred years since Columbus arrived in the Caribbean brought many changes to America and the entire world. The most significant change was the dispossession of Native Americans from most of their native land yet not their total disappearance. It is necessary to make it clear to the public and students that Native Americans are still here and that Native American cultures were as diverse as in the entire world. Further, many of the effects of the Columbian Exchange were not well known or understood, especially contributions made by Native American people. The exchange of specific things are the most tangible and were narrowed down by historians to the most important five in terms of their biological and cultural impact. Many scholars debated about which should be included on this list, but finally settled on the following as having the most significant impact (excerpted from http://daphne.palomar.edu/scrout/colexc.htm):
a. Disease, pest, and the demographic and
" Smallpox was the captain of the men of death in that war, typhus fever the first lieutenant, and measles the second lieutenant. More terrible than the conquistadores on horseback, more deadly than sword and gunpowder..." (Asburn 1947)
Infectious disease probably had the most impact on the world following the initiation of contact by Columbus and his men. Certainly disease was the most effective weapon that Europeans brought to Latin America. The devastating effect of disease on Native peoples was mostly due to the biological isolation and the limited intrusion of infectious diseases in America before A.D. 1492. The weapon of disease was not well recognized by Europeans, nor intentionally used in the early colonial contacts. In later times, especially the 19th century, disease was sometimes allowed to do its damage or was purposefully introduced into populations. However, African, and European populations were also dramatically affected by both epidemic and endemic diseases. Native Americans suffered 80-90% population losses in most of America with influenza, typhoid, measles and smallpox taking the greatest toll in devastating epidemics that were compounded by the significant loss of leadership. More incipient diseases such as tuberculosis, syphilis, and pneumonia would be compounded by nutritional, sanitation, and labor conditions in colonial America (Excerpted from http://daphne.palomar.edu/scrout/disease.htm).
See full article at http://muweb.millersville.edu/~columbus/data/cwk/EXCHANGE.CWK, which discusses the impact of the Columbian Exchange in some detail as well.

b. The geography of crops and domesticated animals.
A. Geography of Crops
Corn, Maize and Potatoes:
American corn or more properly maize is a grass (Podacae) that was domesticated 5,000-7,000 years ago by Native American people in the Tehuacan Valley in the state of Puebla, Mexico. The word corn comes from an English word that means any hard kernel or grain and in some texts does not refer to 'Indian corn' or maize. Since A.D. 1492 the world has increased its population 4-5 times and doubled between 1650-1850. Many scholars have proposed a variety of causal factors, but the increase and improvement of the food supply is clearly the most important factor in population explosions since the beginning of ...

Solution Summary

Referring to Latin America, this solution discuses the Colombian Exchange with regard to a) disease, pest, and the demographic and b) the geography of crops and domesticated animals. Supplementary article on the Colombian Exchange is also included along with references.