History of the AmericasThe history of the Americas begins with their colonization by Native Americans from Asia, who went on to establish civilizations such as the Maya, the Toltecs, the Aztecs, the Inca, and the Iroquois.
The North American continent was first colonized by Asian nomads that crossed the frozen Bering Strait sometime around 20,000 BC. These tribes quickly spread out, reaching Cape Horn, which is located at the Southern tip of South America, roughly 10,000 years later. 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, IL 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. Monks 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 Valley, but further developments were cut short by the arrival of Europeans.
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. Direct control from Europe began to unravel on July 4, 1776 with the United States Declaration of Independence.
- History of North America
- History of South America