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Great American Exchange

  • By: Edward Rice
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

The Great American or Columbian Exchange refers to the transmission of agricultural crops, domesticated livestock, technology, and disease between the Afro-Eurasian region and the Americas that occurred after the voyages of Christopher Columbus to the New World reestablished contact between the two continental systems and their respective populations (Table 1). The most prominent impacts were in the areas of disease transmission and new agricultural crops. These transfers were by no means equivalent. The New World, with its relatively lower population density, did not acquire immunity to the diseases imported from Europe, Asia, and Africa. Native American resistance to malaria, measles, smallpox, tetanus, and typhus was nonexistent, and this resulted in an estimated loss of up to 70% of the population of Middle and Southern ...

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