Hemispheric Exchange Review for AP World History (page 2)

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Mar 4, 2011

The Columbian Exchange

The voyages of Columbus to the Americas initiated a system of exchange between the Eastern and Western hemispheres that produced a major impact on the Atlantic world. The Columbian Exchange was a trade network that exchanged crops, livestock, and diseases between the two hemispheres. Tobacco was introduced to the Eastern Hemisphere. American food crops such as maize and sweet potatoes spread to China and parts of Africa. White potatoes spread to Europe, and manioc to Africa. The introduction of new food crops tended to boost population growth in the Eastern Hemisphere. Coffee, sugarcane, wheat, rice, and bananas made their way across the Atlantic from the Eastern to the Western Hemisphere. The indigenous people of the Americas, however, were largely uninterested in the food crops introduced by Europeans. Sugarcane cultivation was eventually transferred to Brazil and the Caribbean islands and raw sugar sold to the Eastern Hemisphere.

The Columbian Exchange brought livestock such as cattle, horses, sheep, and pigs to the Americas. The horse revolutionized the lifestyle of the nomadic Plains Indians of North America by facilitating the hunting of buffalo.

Epidemic disease also found its way to the Americas through the Columbian Exchange. Prior to the voyages of Columbus, the peoples of the Americas had lived in virtual isolation from the rest of the world, a situation that prevented their exposure to the diseases of the populations of the Eastern Hemisphere. When Europeans arrived in the Americas, they brought with them common diseases to which the Native Americans had developed no immunity: diseases such as smallpox, measles, tuberculosis, and influenza. Within 50 years after the voyages of Columbus, approximately 90 percent of American native peoples had died, most of them from epidemic disease.

Patterns of World Trade

By the seventeenth century, Europeans had established ports in East Asia, Southeast Asia, India, and the west coast of Africa. In general, involvement in international trade positively affected local and regional economies. In areas where direct trade was not possible, Europeans negotiated special economic rights. In Russia, Western European shippers known as factors established agencies in Moscow and St. Petersburg. In the Ottoman Empire, Western European traders formed colonies within the city of Constantinople where they were granted commercial privileges.

Regions Outside the World Trade System

Until the eighteenth century, large regions of the world lay outside the international trade system. China relied primarily on regional trade, channeling most of its commercial activity through the port of Macao. One reason for China's limits on trade with Europe was disinterest in European products. As a result, Europeans paid for the few items they purchased from China with silver, which was the basis of the Chinese economy. England and the Netherlands compensated for the expense of acquiring fine Chinese porcelain by developing their own porcelain modeled after Chinese patterns. Tokugawa Japan also prohibited foreign trade except for limited commercial activity with the Dutch and Chinese through the port of Nagasaki.

Other world regions carried on only limited long-distance trade. Russia traded primarily with the nomads of Central Asia until the eighteenth century, when it began trading grain to the West. The Ottomans, who dismissed the impact of European technology, showed little enthusiasm for trade with the West. Mughal India encouraged trade with the West but was more preoccupied with imperial expansion. Whereas some trading ports were established by Europeans along Africa's west coast, Europeans were deterred from entering the continent by the risk of contracting malaria and by the lack of navigable rivers.

Rapid Review

The increased level of exchange between the Eastern and Western hemispheres began with the voyages of Columbus. Crops, livestock, and diseases changed the demographics on both sides of the Atlantic. Colonies furthered the interchange between the two hemispheres. Some areas such as Japan and China remained largely outside global trade networks, whereas regions such as Russia and the Ottoman Empire concentrated on regional trade.

Review questions for this study guide can be found at:

Hemispheric Exchange Review Questions for AP World History

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