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which made it even more prosperous than many other port cities. People in or near Bristol imported wool and made it into cloth. They also imported sugar and cacao and made them into chocolate.
London Another port city, this one in southeastern England, became more powerful during this period. London became a cultural center, with many theaters and coffeehouses. It became a business center, with the first fire insurance company forming in 1680. And gradually, London became (and still is) a center for international banking. By the late 1800s, more than half the world’s trade was completed in British currency.
Though the Atlantic states became part of an expanding world economy, trade within Europe still accounted for most of European trade volume even at the end of the 17th century. However, the goods that were traded from overseas, such as pepper, spices, sugar, tea, and coffee, tended to be more valuable.
The Columbian Exchange
The Columbian Exchange received its name because it began with the voyages of Columbus. It refers to the exchange of plants, animals, and diseases between the Old World—Europe, Africa, and Asia—and the New World.
American historian Alfred Crosby first explained the concept in the 1970s. A vast ocean separated the Old World from the New World, so different plants, animals, and germs evolved in each region. The exchange thus had enormous consequences in both regions, both positive and negative.
Food and Other Goods As Europeans established colonies around the world, they began to trade goods between Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Africa. These goods included spices, luxury goods, precious metals, crops, and livestock. Tomatoes, potatoes, corn, and squash were introduced to Europe from the Americas, while Europeans brought cattle, horses, pigs, and sheep to the Americas and introduced the cultivation of wheat.
The exchange of foods throughout the world led to better nutrition and increased population. High-calorie foods, such as corn and especially potaotoes, which are able to grow in poor soil, led to a population boom in Europe. Tea from Asia, coffee from Africa, and chocolate from Mexico, along with sugar and tobacco from the Americas, changed European life.
Cultural Exchanges and Clashes Cultural practices were also exchanged. Spanish colonization in the Americas and the Philippines brought a new language and religion, including the institutions of the Catholic Church, along with its churches, schools, and hospitals. The introduction of enslaved Africans and the ideas they brought with them from their homelands caused changes in language, religion, foods, and other aspects of culture as well.
Furthermore, the relative ease with which Europeans conquered indigenous populations reinforced Europeans’ belief that they had a superior civilization. European expansion marked a shift toward European dominance beyond the continent.
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