Britain's colonial past: Potatoes

Potatoes, originally from Colombia, were introduced to England by Elizabethan explorers. Sir Walter Raleigh grew them on his land in Ireland, which in those days was under British rule. The Irish, poor and constantly at war internally or with the English, began to rely on this crop, which was easy to grow and produced a good yield. The poorest families ate nothing else. But in the 1840s a fungus infected the crops and more than one million people died of hunger. Another two million emigrated, mostly to North America and a de-populated Ireland remained under British rule until 1922.

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