This is the tale of two continents, before they knew each other. Europe is small and crowded, and lacks resources, while America is vast – people have space, and live off an abundance of wildlife. Then Columbus sights the Americas. This is the untold story of conquest and colonization. Not by Europeans but what they bring with them: microbes, plants, and animals. This is the story of biological imperialism – the true legacy of Columbus.
Part 1: It is the year 1491. Europe’s forests are cut down; their waters depleted. In a desperate search for resources and driven by curiosity, Europeans begin to reach out, beyond their horizon. It is the Age of Discovery. In America, similar numbers of people live in ten times as much space. This is a vast land, with an abundance of wildlife, forests, and crops unknown to the rest of the world.
Part 2: It is the summer of 1492. After 3 months at sea, Columbus sights the Americas. What happens next? Europeans conquer and colonize the New World with weapons and violence. But there is another story: about the animals, plants and microbes they bring with them, that transform the continent completely. This is the story of biological imperialism, the true legacy of Columbus.
National Geographic Channel Version nominated for the History Makers Award 2011.