The Positive or Negative Impacts of Columbian Exchange in the Global History


The Columbian Exchange marks the major historic period that saw numerous transfers taking place between the American, Asian, European, and African nations. Particularly, the exchange transpires between the 15th and 16th centuries, whereby these nations ended up exchanging goods, animals, and people as well as information. Historically, it is believed that the Columbian Exchange took place as a result of the European invasion of America. The term Columbian Exchange was coined from the legendary explorer, Christopher Columbus, when he arrived in the Caribbean Islands in 1492. As the interexchange was happening, it brought along both positives and negatives outcomes. To mention a few, some of the positive essentials include the weaponry, architecture, farming as well as technological advances, whereas the negatives impacts were the oppression of indigenous American and chronic illness such as measles chickenpox and malaria. Consequently, the Columbian Exchange brought more positive influence than a negative one in the global history.

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To start with the positives, one of the most significant one that came as a result of Columbian Exchange was the technological advancement in firearms, weaponry, and machinery. These kinds of technological advancement was a significant additional to the native Americans as they were slightly advanced, uncultivated and uncivilized prior to the European arrival as far as the matters of weaponry, and machinery are concerned.

Another positive impact brought by the Columbian Exchange that benefited the entire global was the growth of the livestock’s trading and agriculture. In relation to it, the world has relished in the exchange of rich-staple crops such as coffee, tobacco, cotton, and corn. For instance, the world shared the vegetables such as the corn, cassava, bananas, and sweet potatoes, with the potatoes marking the huge impacts. Additionally, the global agriculture expanded due to the simplification of land cultivation to grow these because of the introduction of the advanced land mechanization and agricultural engineering from Europe. In many places, the crops from Europe and America ended up complementing the Old World crops rather than the replacing them.

Not only did the Columbian Exchange lead to the sharing of food crops but it also led to an interchange of livestock that was beneficial in terms of energy clothing and food. In 1493, it is believed that the famous Christopher Columbus first arrived in America with the cattle, horses, chickens goats, pigs and sheep, and it was his second voyage. The livestock became valuable and staple sources of foods around the globe especially in the Savannas regions where crop cultivation was not suitable due to poor climate. For instance, the introduction of animals such as cattle, sheep, and goats which could graze on grasses also came along with the most nourishing meals such as milk and meat for humans. The horses and oxen also became very useful animals around the globe as they were used for energy purposes such as pulling carts, wagons as well as in sport. Another animal that provided an extra-human energy were the dogs that were used in carrying lighter loads in wagons. Lastly, the exchange of the cattle and sheep not only sustained life with food, but also provided the natives with their hides, skins, and tallow. Admittedly, these products became valuable trading commodities among the ancient merchants.

As much as the historic Columbian Exchange period brought many positive outcomes to the world, it also brought few negative one as well. To start with, the exchange caused the spread of chronic infectious illnesses around the world. They included smallpox, malaria, measles typhus, whooping cough, chicken pox, and bubonic plague. Initially, the indigenous people had not been in contact with these chronic world diseases as they were living in an environment that was free from them. For instance, before the arrival of Christopher Columbus, the ingenious Americans had no experience of suffering from measles and smallpox. Since most of these diseases are airborne, they were contractible through air as the virus and germs could travel faster with the explorers. The diseases ended up causing massive deaths to a larger proportion of the indigenous populations as many of them caught them even without being in contact with the explorers.

Concisely, the Columbian Exchange brought more positive impacts than the negative ones in the global history. Thus, the interchange hugely benefited the entire global as the natives from various regions acquired sophisticated ideas, information, plants, and animals that have remained advantageous to many people globally today. On the contrary, the Columbus Exchange period was also characterized with few negative impacts such as communicable deceases that infected many of the ingenuous population in America and the rest of the world.

Important Lessons from Pre-Columbian Indians

Pre-Columbian Indians had lived in a diverse way of life and culture before the Europeans interfered. The natives were marked by an autonomous political organization. They lived in small groups which were interconnected by trade ties. Thus, different cultures were interconnected. The Indians were gender sensitive, and their work was divided along the gender line. While the history of Pre-Columbian Indians way of life has been ignored, there are several important things that can be inferred from their multiculturalism, gender, and political way of life. This paper is going to examine some of the important aspects of their political and cultural lives and gender sensitivity issues exhibited by the history of Pre-Columbian Indians.

Pre-Columbian Indians was a highly diverse culture with little traits shared amongst the tribes, but the cultural practices were shared within almost the entire geographical zone. Even the unrelated tribes shared similar social organizations and technologies. This enhanced the coexistence and shared development in their region of inhabitation. This culture was evident in Mesoamerica where the coexistence of the people produced a similar culture regarding agricultural developments and social organizations in the region. In the Northern American area, the Indians who inhabited the Great Plains were reported to be sharing common practices such as hunting and gathering. Each tribe exhibited similar hunting styles for buffalos. Namely, inventions and rapid expansion of agriculture in the Mesopotamia region can be attributed to this shared technologies and innovations. This shows that the differences in cultures did not mean that you cannot copy a positive habit from another community. It means that the communities all over the world can still share the technological inventions and innovations to benefit all regions in terms of development and advancement.
On the other hand, diversity in the cultural practices also had a positive part. The tribes of Maya, Zapotec, and Totonac shared a common Olmec heritage but exhibited dissimilarities as well. For instance, Maya was good in writing, making calendar, and mathematics. Totonac was good at political and commercial matters. This diversity led to a progressive advancement in all dimensions of human life including social, economic, and political ends.

Based on gender issues, most of the Indian tribes demonstrated a sharing of power between men and women. In Maya tribe, women played tremendous roles in the court system. They influenced the state affairs even at the highest jurisdictions. Even though women were not given the highest ruling positions such as the ruler of the community, it was observed that those who surrounded the ruler could still influence the decisions made by the government. In religious matters, Mayan women participated in offering bloody sacrifices such as an honor to their gods. Moreover, young girls learned to serve in shrines and participate in religious practices. In the agriculture and hunting sector, women took part in foraging for tubers, berries among other food stuff while men hunted animals like buffalos. Harvesting of agricultural products was a collective exercise for both men and women. In warfare times, women prepared men for war by cooking and offering sacrifices to please their gods so that they could succeed in it. From this tribe, we can learn that leadership was not a preserve of either gender. For instance, women were given a chance to participate in leadership roles, and their advice was listened to by the rulers. They could also participate in many activities in serving their gods, and in development activities such as agriculture as well. This tribe had earlier recognized the role of women in development and gave her a chance to participate actively in leadership activities. This is an example of gender equality which is a positive behavior to be emulated in the current world.

Pre-Columbian Indian native empires also let impressive political, scientific and artistic civilizations to be emulated. This can be observed from the Aztec culture which was marked by an alliance of various tribes to form a complex society of artistic and astronomical inventions. This community was characterized by economic unity. They collected tributes from the conquered lands to build their city. Evidence that can still be observed today is Temple de Mayo twin tower which is about 197 feet tall. Hence, this Empire teaches us that we have to pay taxes which should be used to build our cities and support other development projects.


It is, therefore, evident that the Pre-Columbian Indians left a historical legacy that we should revisit to guide ourselves in areas of gender equality, recognizing the role of women in leadership and embracing political and economic unity among the nations. Besides, we should cooperate beyond the tribal lines. Tribal diversities should present diversified technologies and practices that can be translated into the economic welfare of the nations. What is more, women should be given a chance to lead as demonstrated by the Mayan culture.

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