Why is the study of other countries and cultures important in this day and age?
Understanding a country's history and culture (or various cultures) is important for understanding why they act a certain way to threats or perceived threats. A country's history is a big factor in determining how they will act in the future, as well as understanding current events. When one understands where they come from, they can make better and more effective solutions to issues. To ignore the history and culture of a country is to ignore who they are and the potential for peace. Remember that extremists are outliers. They are the minority and do NOT represent the majority. Knowing a country's history helps one understand that.
What is the Columbian Exchange?
The Columbian Exchange is the transfer of hard products like produce, animals and technology; soft products like religion and culture; and disease between the Americas (aka the New World) and mostly Europe (aka the Old World) that started with Columbus' discovery of the New World. The New World introduced produce like corn, potatoes, sugar cane, and tomatoes to the New World. From the Old World came animals like horses, pigs, cattle, and chicken. The New World delivered turkeysEuropeans also brought with them diseases that they were long accustomed to, but the native populations of the Americas had never before encountered. Their exposure to the new diseases led to a fast decline in native populations as they succumbed to them. Guns and advanced metal weaponry was a technology the Europeans brought with them. Such weapons and protection were like none other the natives had seen, and were quickly proven to be superior to their own weapons and tactics.
Between who was the War of 1812 fought and what led to the declaration of war?
The war of 1812 was fought between the still young US and England. Among it's primary causes were the impressment (forced recruitment) of US sailors by the British Navy; the British blockading American merchant ships from France; and British encouragement and alignment with Native tribes against the US. All of this was aided by the British attitude that the US "experiment" was going to fail, and the the American colonies were still rebelling. This caused the war to be known as "The Second War of Independence." This is also the war that inspired the Star Spangled Banner, with the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key currently housed at the Smithsonian in D.C.