The Impact of Voyages of Discovery, the Columbian Exchange and Global Trade

In the late fifteenth century up to the mid-eighteenth century, many discoveries happened outside the considered old world to another new world. Prior to this period, scholars had no or little knowledge of the world outside Europe and Middle East Asia. In the late fifteen century, one of the world’s renown adventurist Christopher Columbia discovered what would be known today as the United  States of American or in general the North America. The discovery by Columbia brought many opportunities for trade, exchange of knowledge, cultures and religious beliefs across the two continents. This paper focuses on the impact of voyage discovery in the North America that took place in the late 15th century and mid-18th century. Further, the paper discusses the global trade and the Columbian exchange.

Voyages of discovery

The voyages of discovery happened from the old world (Europe) across the Atlantic Ocean to the North American continent. Historically, the voyages of discovery began around 1492, the time when Christopher Columbus crossed the Atlantic Ocean to discover the Americas continent. The two worlds brought great opportunities to trade, exchanges of knowledge, cultures, and technology. Among the great items exchanged between these two worlds were crops, animals and even diseases that would inevitably be avoided in that time.

The connection with America opened the way for the Europe's involvement in the America's trade. The facilitation was a result of the innovation of technology spread by the Muslim such as the navigational tools. The main reason for the voyage was to discover Asia. According to Columbia, Asia as referred to as the West was not far from Europe. Columbia ended up finding the Caribbean and established the connections with the Americas (Crosby). The voyage in the New World involved the Dutch, Portuguese, Spain and Britain.

Columbian Exchange

The presence of the Europeans in the Atlantic Ocean came with changes that had a significant influence to the locals. The introduction of crops such as cassava and maize by the Portuguese led to increased population. Mostly, the growing population in countries such as Angola in Africa was a good gesture to the New World slaves. The presence of the Old World witnessed significant environmental changes. The Europeans focused on single crops that in turn led to soil exhaustion. Instead of rotational farming, the plantations existed as individual plants and their depletion made them move to new lands. Another change was deforestation happening to clear land for agriculture and shipbuilding. Moreover, the ice age meant that wood had to be burnt to keep the Europeans warm. The wood was important in keeping the home countries to grow (Osborn 8).

Apart from the environmental changes, there was the introduction of crops, animals, diseases and technology to the new world. Before the advent of the Europeans, the Americans kept the Llamas and dogs. The Europeans brought cows among many other animals. Additionally, there was the introduction of new farming tools and methods. The chemicals for spraying the crops and the oxen plow for preparing the land (Osborn 7). Unfortunately, new kinds of diseases emerged such as the Malaria from the Old World. The exchanges happened in two ways, benefiting both sides and the partners engaging.

Another critical exchange involved religion. The Old World brought Christianity with them, while the New World natives had no faith similar to Christianity. The only known thing about the America's natives was their rich cultures that involved animals such as the wolves (Mann).

Global Trade

The Europeans presence introduced the America's to the global trade. The goods had a new world circulation as facilitated by the royal chartered European monopoly companies. The Spanish colonies in America produced silver that purchased the Asian products for the Atlantic Markets. Nevertheless, the regional markets kept flourishing in the Afro-Eurasia trade (Crosby). The Afro-Eurasia trade existed on the grounds of newly developed transoceanic shipping services and commercial practices by the European Merchants. The stock companies present made investing in colonization and exploration to be less risky. The interest from many people to spend resulted in a much faster growth rate. The Europeans exposure to more resources enabled them to engage in a much greater scale trading (Mann).

Slave trade resulted from the need to have cheap labor as most of the Amerindians had perished. The private companies through mercantile trading intended to benefit the mother country. The global trade was in the form of the Great Circuit Trade, which had three legs. The first leg was from Europe and involved carrying guns, Indian cotton and hardware (Mann 156). The second leg included the taking of African slaves to the New World. The final leg moved the plantation goods to Europe from the colonies.


The European voyage opened new lands for them and expanded their influence to far off countries. The natives in the New World had to provide cheap labor and surrender their lands. Sadly, the death of many Amerindians led to the introduction of the slave trade. The interactions between the Old World and the New World resulted in the Columbian exchanges that had effects on the natural environmental conditions. 

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