Global Exchange: c. 1450 - c. 1750

AP Concept: 4.1 Globalizing Networks of Communication and Exchange
Key Concepts
  • The Columbian exchange occurred as a result of transoceanic travel (with environmental and demographic impacts)
  • Global exchange of goods was fostered by transoceanic travel
  • Religion spread and reformed, fostered by contact between and within hemispheres
The Columbian Exchange
  • Following Christopher Columbus' landing in the Americas in 1492, Europeans included the Americas into their global trade network, which launched the Columbian Exchange
  • This was the global exchange of plants, animals, foods, crops, humans, and diseases
  • Many of the goods exchanged revolutionized the world in demographic and environmental changes
  • The introduction of smallpox, measles, influenza, and other Afro-Eurasian diseases to the Americas devastated the native population, which had no natural immunity disease destroyed up to 90% of the Native American population (c. 80 - 100 million people in 1492)
  • This further weakened native populations, making it impossible for them to resist invasion and conquest by Europeans
  • The introduction of American foods and crops, such as tomatoes, beans, tobacco, potatoes, and corn, revolutionized European diets and led to a population explosion
  • Crops such as corn could grow in Afro-Eurasian regions too dry for rice and too wet for wheat
  • European settlers introduced livestock like cattle, pigs, and horses to the Americas with no natural predators, these animals reproduced quickly and destroyed landscapes
  • Other Forms of Exchange
    • Europeans created unique systems of trade to incorporate the Americas into their trade networks
    • These trading systems further distributed goods throughout the world, and had major demographic and environmental effects
    • Led by Spain and Portugal, Europe set up the Atlantic slave trade, or triangular trade, which carried enslaved Africans to the Americas to work on sugar plantations and gold and silver mines; the wealth produced typically enriched Europe
    • Between 1492 and 1820, around 10 million Africans were forcibly brought to the Americas, and nearly 2 million Europeans moved to the Americas in connection with this economic revolution
    • Europeans destroyed forests and vegetation to establish plantations, which profoundly changed the New World's environment
    • Spain and other European powers also hoped to convert Native Americans to Christianity sent missionaries to the New World
    • Many under Spanish rule adopted Christianity and blended it with native traditions
    • As a result of these changes, new social orders, religious traditions, and populations were formed

    Related Links:
    AP World History Quizzes
    AP World History
    AP World History Notes
    European Exploration: c. 1450 - c. 1750