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Columbian Exchange

Unit 4: c. 1450-1750

Main Ideas:

  • Disease: Europeans unintentionally brought deadly diseases to Americas → Killed many Native Americans

  • Plants: American food crops became staples in Afro-Eurasia → Increased Afro-Eurasian population

  • Animals: Europeans brought domesticated animals (horses, pigs, cattle) to Americas → Horses made transportation easier

  • People: Lots of Europeans (& Africans) migrated to Americas → Allowed Europeans to dominate Americas


Europeans Accidentally Brought Diseases to Americas → Killed Most Native Americans

Key Ideas:

  • European diseases were unintentionally brought to the Americas, which killed many Native Americans (who had no immunity to them) 
    • Diseases like smallpox, whooping cough, and flu traveled with Europeans & decimated Native American populations​​​​ 

    • This made it easier for Europeans to conquer the Americas


American Food Crops Became Staples in Afro-Eurasia ​→ Population Growth

Key Ideas:

  • Europeans brought American food crops (food crops only grown in Americas) to Europe, which caused significant population growth in Afro-Eurasia

    • These included the potato, squash, beans, corn, tomato, etc.

    • Potatoes were very rich in nutrients → Became very common in Afro-Eurasia (especially Ireland)

Potatoes, a key staple in Afro-Eurasia, originating in the Americas


A corn field in the US. Corn was one of the products of the Columbian Exchange



Europeans Brought Domesticated Animals to Americas → Horses Made Travel Easier

Key Ideas:

  • Europeans brought domesticated animals (pig, cow, sheep, etc.) to the Americas
    • Europeans brought horses, and they could ride on the horses to move much faster than the Native Americans → Easier to conquer the Americas

    • Other domesticated animals transformed agricultural practices in the Americas by making the Americas more reliant on meat domestication


Many Afro-Eurasians Migrated to Americas → Easier for Europeans to Dominate Americas

Key Ideas:

  • A lot of Europeans migrated to the Americas, and they forced enslaved Africans to do the same → Europeans dominated the Americas
    • Millions of Europeans and Enslaved Africans migrated to the Americas

    • Europeans quickly displaced the local indigenous American population → Established European dominance of the Americas

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