of the Americas
The history of the Americas begins with
their colonization by peoples from Asia, the ancestors of today's
Native Americans. They established numerous civilizations such as
the Moche, Cahokia, Maya, Toltecs, Olmec, Aztecs, Inca, and the Iroquois.
Artifacts have been found in both North and South America which
have been dated to 10,000 BC. The North American continent is widely
believed to have been first colonized by Asian nomads that crossed
the Bering Land Bridge. By 10,000 BC, humans are thought to have
reached Cape Horn, at the Southern tip of South America.
Just when the migration started is subject to much debate. In theory
it could have taken place as early as 40,000 BC, and recent archeological
finds suggest multiple migrations, but the predominant theory
is a single land migration starting around 20,000 BC. All theories
agree that the Inuit arrived separately and much later, probably
around the 6th century.
Although several large, centralized civilizations developed in
the Western Hemisphere (e.g., the Inca in the Andes, the Aztecs
and the Maya in Central America), the major North American mound
building civilizations like the Cahokians had very few major population
centers. The capital of the Cahokians, Cahokia - located near modern
East St. Louis, Illinois may have reached a population of over
20,000. At its peak, between the 12th and 13th centuries Cahokia
was the most populous city in North America. Monk's Mound, the
major ceremonial center of Cahokia, remains the largest earthen
construction of the prehistoric New World.
By the 15th century AD, corn had been transmitted from Mexico
and was being farmed in the Mississippi River Valley, but further
developments were cut short by the arrival of Europeans. Potatoes
were utilized by the Inca and chocolate by the Aztec.
Europeans Discover the Americas
The continent was rediscovered by Europeans later. Initially the
Vikings established a short-lived settlement in Newfoundland.
Theories exist about earlier and later Old World discoveries
of the east coast (or of the west coast by the Chinese), but
none of these are considered proven. It was the later voyage
of Christopher Columbus that led to extensive European colonization
of the Americas. Europe sovereignty began to unravel on July
4, 1776 with the United States Declaration of Independence which
was followed in the early 1800's by the independence of Haiti
and several South American countries.
Vast immigration from Europe along with smaller immigration from
Asia and forced movement of African slaves led to population growth
throughout the Americas after the population of Native Americans
collapsed from war, slavery and foreign diseases. In many countries
of the Americas, Native Americans became marginalized politically
and economically and in several countries, such as Canada, the
United States, Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile, Native Americans
no longer form a significant portion of the population.
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