Spanish colonization of the Americas
Overview
 
Colonial expansion under the Spanish Empire
Spanish Empire
The Spanish Empire comprised territories and colonies administered directly by Spain in Europe, in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It originated during the Age of Exploration and was therefore one of the first global empires. At the time of Habsburgs, Spain reached the peak of its world power....

 was initiated by the Spanish conquistador
Conquistador
Conquistadors were Spanish soldiers, explorers, and adventurers who brought much of the Americas under the control of Spain in the 15th to 16th centuries, following Europe's discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus in 1492...

es
and developed by the Monarchy of Spain through its administrators and missionaries. The motivations for colonial expansion were trade and the spread of the Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 faith through indigenous
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 conversions. It lasted for over four hundred years, from 1492 to 1898.

Beginning with the 1492 arrival of Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

, over nearly four centuries the Spanish Empire
Spanish Empire
The Spanish Empire comprised territories and colonies administered directly by Spain in Europe, in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It originated during the Age of Exploration and was therefore one of the first global empires. At the time of Habsburgs, Spain reached the peak of its world power....

 would expand across: most of present day Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

, the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

 islands, and Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

; much of the rest of North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 including the Southwestern
Southwestern United States
The Southwestern United States is a region defined in different ways by different sources. Broad definitions include nearly a quarter of the United States, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah...

, Southern
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

 coastal, and California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 Pacific Coast
West Coast of the United States
West Coast or Pacific Coast are terms for the westernmost coastal states of the United States. The term most often refers to the states of California, Oregon, and Washington. Although not part of the contiguous United States, Alaska and Hawaii do border the Pacific Ocean but can't be included in...

 regions of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

; and though inactive, with claimed territory in present day British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

 Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

; and U.S.
Discussions
Encyclopedia
Colonial expansion under the Spanish Empire
Spanish Empire
The Spanish Empire comprised territories and colonies administered directly by Spain in Europe, in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It originated during the Age of Exploration and was therefore one of the first global empires. At the time of Habsburgs, Spain reached the peak of its world power....

 was initiated by the Spanish conquistador
Conquistador
Conquistadors were Spanish soldiers, explorers, and adventurers who brought much of the Americas under the control of Spain in the 15th to 16th centuries, following Europe's discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus in 1492...

es
and developed by the Monarchy of Spain through its administrators and missionaries. The motivations for colonial expansion were trade and the spread of the Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 faith through indigenous
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 conversions. It lasted for over four hundred years, from 1492 to 1898.

Beginning with the 1492 arrival of Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

, over nearly four centuries the Spanish Empire
Spanish Empire
The Spanish Empire comprised territories and colonies administered directly by Spain in Europe, in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It originated during the Age of Exploration and was therefore one of the first global empires. At the time of Habsburgs, Spain reached the peak of its world power....

 would expand across: most of present day Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

, the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

 islands, and Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

; much of the rest of North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 including the Southwestern
Southwestern United States
The Southwestern United States is a region defined in different ways by different sources. Broad definitions include nearly a quarter of the United States, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah...

, Southern
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

 coastal, and California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 Pacific Coast
West Coast of the United States
West Coast or Pacific Coast are terms for the westernmost coastal states of the United States. The term most often refers to the states of California, Oregon, and Washington. Although not part of the contiguous United States, Alaska and Hawaii do border the Pacific Ocean but can't be included in...

 regions of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

; and though inactive, with claimed territory in present day British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

 Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

; and U.S. states of Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

, Washington, and Oregon
Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

; and the western half of South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

. In the early 19th century the revolutionary movements resulted in the independence of most Spanish colonies in America, except for Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

 and Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

, given up in 1898 following the Spanish-American War
Spanish-American War
The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States, effectively the result of American intervention in the ongoing Cuban War of Independence...

, together with Guam
Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

 and the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

 in the Pacific. Spain's loss of these last territories politically ended Spanish colonization in America. The cultural influences, though, still remain.

Christopher Columbus

Since the early 15th century, Portuguese explorers, sailing in caravels, had established new southward routes to Asia, by travelling along the coast of West Africa
West Africa
West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. Geopolitically, the UN definition of Western Africa includes the following 16 countries and an area of approximately 5 million square km:-Flags of West Africa:...

. In 1488, they rounded the Cape of Good Hope
Cape of Good Hope
The Cape of Good Hope is a rocky headland on the Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula, South Africa.There is a misconception that the Cape of Good Hope is the southern tip of Africa, because it was once believed to be the dividing point between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. In fact, the...

 and explored East Africa
East Africa
East Africa or Eastern Africa is the easterly region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. In the UN scheme of geographic regions, 19 territories constitute Eastern Africa:...

; later, they discovered rich trading regions in Indonesia, and established trading ports on the western coast of Indonesia, and later India. In 1485, Christopher Columbus unsuccessfully tried to persuade King John II of Portugal
John II of Portugal
John II , the Perfect Prince , was the thirteenth king of Portugal and the Algarves...

 (João II) to sponsor an expedition to Asia, meant to be reached by sailing westwards, across the Atlantic Ocean. That alternative route, different from the theoretical eastward route, was based on the conviction that the Earth was round. The Portuguese Court rejected that proposal because they believed that the distance to Asia was greater than what Columbus had calculated; in 1488, Columbus re-presented his plan to John II of Portugal, who refused him, based on the recent discovery, by Bartholomeu Dias, of the eastward route to Asia along the African coast and across the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

.

Undeterred, Columbus went to the Spanish Court, where he proved more persuasive with the Catholic Monarchs
Catholic Monarchs
The Catholic Monarchs is the collective title used in history for Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon. They were both from the House of Trastámara and were second cousins, being both descended from John I of Castile; they were given a papal dispensation to deal with...

, the recently enthroned Isabella I Queen of Castile
Crown of Castile
The Crown of Castile was a medieval and modern state in the Iberian Peninsula that formed in 1230 as a result of the third and definitive union of the crowns and parliaments of the kingdoms of Castile and León upon the accession of the then King Ferdinand III of Castile to the vacant Leonese throne...

 and her husband Ferdinand II
Ferdinand II of Aragon
Ferdinand the Catholic was King of Aragon , Sicily , Naples , Valencia, Sardinia, and Navarre, Count of Barcelona, jure uxoris King of Castile and then regent of that country also from 1508 to his death, in the name of...

 King of Aragon
Crown of Aragon
The Crown of Aragon Corona d'Aragón Corona d'Aragó Corona Aragonum controlling a large portion of the present-day eastern Spain and southeastern France, as well as some of the major islands and mainland possessions stretching across the Mediterranean as far as Greece...

. Although Columbus had presented his navigational plan to the Spanish Court as early as 1486, proposing to reach Asia by sailing West, across the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

, he was unconvincing to the Catholic Monarchs until 1491, when Queen Isabella approved it. In August 1492, Columbus sailed from the Andalusian port of Palos de la Frontera
Palos de la Frontera
Palos de la Frontera is a town and municipality located in the southwestern Spanish province of Huelva, in the autonomous community of Andalusia. It is situated some from the provincial capital, Huelva...

 in Southern Spain, and arrived on the island of Guanahani
Guanahani
Guanahani was the name the natives gave to the island that Christopher Columbus called San Salvador when he arrived at the Americas. Columbus reached the island on 12 October 1492, the first island he sighted and visited in the Americas...

, in the Bahamas, on 12 October 1492. On that first trans-Atlantic voyage, Columbus and his sailors were greeted by the Arawak people of the Bahamas, who were kind and curious about the Spanish sailors, and offered food, water, and gifts. Yet, in his log, Columbus wrote that “. . . They would make fine servants . . . With fifty men we could subjugate them all, and make them do whatever we want.” In 1495, Columbus and crew rounded up 1,500 Arawak men, women, and children, from which group they selected 500 “best specimens” to take to his sponsors; of those people, some 200 died en route to Spain. At the Spanish Court, Columbus presented the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabel, with the captured Arawaks, gold trinkets, parrots, and other exotic things. Impressed with the human and material bounties yielded by the first expedition, they commissioned Columbus for a second expedition, and provided 17 ships, some 1,500 soldiers, cavalry, and weapons (cannon, crossbows, guns, and attack dogs). In 1493, Columbus returned to the New World and claimed Spanish ownership of the island of Hispaniola
Hispaniola
Hispaniola is a major island in the Caribbean, containing the two sovereign states of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The island is located between the islands of Cuba to the west and Puerto Rico to the east, within the hurricane belt...

 (contemporary Haiti
Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

 and the Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

) from the indigenous Taíno people
Taíno people
The Taínos were pre-Columbian inhabitants of the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and the northern Lesser Antilles. It is thought that the seafaring Taínos are relatives of the Arawak people of South America...

. The Spanish Monarchs granted Columbus the governorship of the new territories, and financed more of his trans-Atlantic journeys. Although considered an excellent navigator, Columbus wrecked the Santa María, the flagship of his fleet; he proved a poor administrator and was stripped of the governorship in 1500; he was jailed for six weeks upon returning to Spain; yet Ferdinand and Isabel financed his fourth voyage to the New World, but denied him the governorship of the land.

As a businessman of his time, Christopher Columbus profited from the agricultural and gold-mining labour of native slaves
Slavery among the indigenous peoples of the Americas
Slavery among the indigenous peoples of the Americas took many forms throughout North and South America. Slavery was institution among various Pre-Columbian indigenous peoples of the Americas; however, chattel slavery was introduced after European and African contact. Indigenous peoples have...

; he took back to Europe some 500 American natives whom he tried to sell as slaves in Spain. In the New World, the Taíno people began resisting their Spanish enslavement; they refused to plant crops, and abandoned their Spanish-occupied villages; their rebellion progressed from disobedience to violence, and they fought the Spanish invaders with guerrilla warfare, such as booby trap
Booby trap
A booby trap is a device designed to harm or surprise a person, unknowingly triggered by the presence or actions of the victim. As the word trap implies, they often have some form of bait designed to lure the victim towards it. However, in other cases the device is placed on busy roads or is...

s, ambushes, and attrition warfare
Attrition warfare
Attrition warfare is a military strategy in which a belligerent side attempts to win a war by wearing down its enemy to the point of collapse through continuous losses in personnel and matériel....

 to exhaust the Spanish soldiers. Although stone arrowheads could not penetrate the armour of the Spanish soldier, they were effective as shrapnel against the breast plates of the soldiers; however, stone and copper maces proved more effective in close combat; yet it was the sling
Sling (weapon)
A sling is a projectile weapon typically used to throw a blunt projectile such as a stone or lead "sling-bullet". It is also known as the shepherd's sling....

 that proved most effective, because the rocks hurled could readily crush an armoured cavalryman (caballero). In 1522, the Taíno
Taíno people
The Taínos were pre-Columbian inhabitants of the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and the northern Lesser Antilles. It is thought that the seafaring Taínos are relatives of the Arawak people of South America...

 Cacique
Cacique
Cacique is a title derived from the Taíno word for the pre-Columbian chiefs or leaders of tribes in the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and the northern Lesser Antilles...

 Enriquillo
Enriquillo
Enriquillo was a Taíno Cacique who rebelled against the Spaniards from 1519 to 1533. His father was killed while attending peace talks with the Spanish, along with eighty other regional chieftains under the direction of his aunt Anacaona in Jaragua. During the talks, Spanish soldiers set the...

 (Little Henry) successfully rebelled against Spanish rule, forcing them to agree to a treaty that granted the natives the human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

 of Freedom and of Possession; yet that forced concession proved inconsequential, because European diseases, slavery, and ritual infanticide and suicide (meant to avoid adult and infantile enslavement) quickly killed most of the Taíno people.

In 1502, on the fourth, and final, expedition to the American continent, Christopher Columbus encountered a large canoe, filled with goods, off the coast of Honduras
Honduras
Honduras is a republic in Central America. It was previously known as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras, which became the modern-day state of Belize...

; after boarding it, he found cacao beans, axes with heads of copper
Copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

 and of flint, bells, pottery, and cotton
Cotton
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....

 garments — it was the first Spanish encounter with the civilisations of Central America.

First mainland explorations

In 1513, Vasco Núñez de Balboa
Vasco Núñez de Balboa
Vasco Núñez de Balboa was a Spanish explorer, governor, and conquistador. He is best known for having crossed the Isthmus of Panama to the Pacific Ocean in 1513, becoming the first European to lead an expedition to have seen or reached the Pacific from the New World.He traveled to the New World in...

 crossed the Isthmus of Panama
Isthmus of Panama
The Isthmus of Panama, also historically known as the Isthmus of Darien, is the narrow strip of land that lies between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, linking North and South America. It contains the country of Panama and the Panama Canal...

, to find gold but instead led the first European expedition to the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 and the west coast of the New World
History of the west coast of North America
The human history of the west coast of North America is believed to stretch back to the arrival of the earliest people over the Bering Strait, or alternately along a now-submerged coastal plain, through the development of significant pre-Columbian cultures and population densities, to the arrival...

. In an action with enduring historical import, Balboa claimed the Pacific Ocean and all the lands adjoining it for the Spanish Crown. It was 1517 before another expedition from Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

 explored Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

. It landed on the coast of the Yucatán peninsula
Yucatán Peninsula
The Yucatán Peninsula, in southeastern Mexico, separates the Caribbean Sea from the Gulf of Mexico, with the northern coastline on the Yucatán Channel...

 in search of slaves
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

.

The Caribbean: First settlements in America

The first mainland explorations were followed by a phase of inland expeditions and conquest. The Spanish crown
Spanish monarchy
The Monarchy of Spain, constitutionally referred to as The Crown and commonly referred to as the Spanish monarchy or Hispanic Monarchy, is a constitutional institution and an historic office of Spain...

 extended the Reconquista
Reconquista
The Reconquista was a period of almost 800 years in the Middle Ages during which several Christian kingdoms succeeded in retaking the Muslim-controlled areas of the Iberian Peninsula broadly known as Al-Andalus...

 effort, completed in Spain in 1492, to non-Catholic people in new territories. In 1502 on the coast of present day Colombia, near the Gulf of Urabá
Gulf of Urabá
The Gulf of Urabá is a gulf on the northern coast of South America. It is part of the Caribbean Sea. It is a long narrow inlet in the coast of Colombia, close to the connection of the continent to the Isthmus of Panama. The town of Turbo lies at the southern end of the Gulf...

, Spanish explorers led by Vasco Núñez de Balboa
Vasco Núñez de Balboa
Vasco Núñez de Balboa was a Spanish explorer, governor, and conquistador. He is best known for having crossed the Isthmus of Panama to the Pacific Ocean in 1513, becoming the first European to lead an expedition to have seen or reached the Pacific from the New World.He traveled to the New World in...

 explored and conquered the area near the Atrato River
Atrato River
The Río Atrato is a river of northwestern Colombia. It rises in the slopes of the Western Cordillera and flows almost due north to the Gulf of Urabá , where it forms a large, swampy delta....

. The conquest
Conquest (military)
Conquest is the act of military subjugation of an enemy by force of arms. One example is the Norman conquest of England, which provided the subjugation of the Kingdom of England and the acquisition of the English crown by William the Conqueror in 1066...

 was of the Chibchan speaking nations, mainly the Muisca
Muisca
Muisca was the Chibcha-speaking tribe that formed the Muisca Confederation of the central highlands of present-day Colombia. They were encountered by the Spanish Empire in 1537, at the time of the conquest...

 and Tairona
Tairona
Tairona was a group of chiefdoms in the region of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in present-day Cesar, Magdalena and La Guajira Departments of Colombia, South America, which goes back at least to the 1st century AD and had significant demographic growth around the 11th century.The Tairona people...

 indigenous people that lived here. The Spanish founded San Sebastian de Uraba in 1509—abandoned within the year, and in 1510 the first permanent Spanish mainland settlement in America, Santa María la Antigua del Darién
Santa María la Antigua del Darién
Santa María la Antigua del Darién was a Spanish colonial town founded in 1510 by Vasco Núñez de Balboa, located in present-day Colombia approximately 40 miles south of Acandí...

. These were the first European settlements in America
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

.
The conquistadors were truly amazed by what they found — immense wealth in gold and silver, complex cities rivaling or surpassing those in Europe, and remarkable artistic and scientific achievements. Spanish conquest in the New World was driven by the three 'G's—God, glory, and gold.

Mexico

There is a difference in the 'Spanish conquest of Mexico' between the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire
Spanish conquest of Mexico
The Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire was one of the most important campaigns in the Spanish colonization of the Americas. The invasion began in February 1519 and was acclaimed victorious on August 13, 1521, by a coalition army of Spanish conquistadors and Tlaxcalan warriors led by Hernán Cortés...

 and the Spanish conquest of Yucatán
Spanish conquest of Yucatán
The Spanish conquest of Yucatán was the campaign undertaken by the Spanish conquistadores against the Late Postclassic Maya states and polities, particularly in the northern and central Yucatán Peninsula but also involving the Maya polities of the Guatemalan highlands region...

. The former is conquest of the campaign, led by Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro, 1st Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century...

 from 1519–21 and his Tlaxcala
Tlaxcala (Nahua state)
Tlaxcala was a pre-Columbian city state of central Mexico.Tlaxcala was a confederation of four altepetl — Ocotelolco, Quiahuiztlan, Tepeticpac and Tizatlan — which each took turns providing a ruler for Tlaxcala as a whole.-History:Tlaxcala was never conquered by the Aztec empire, but was...

 and other 'indigenous peoples' allied against the Mexica/Aztec
Aztec
The Aztec people were certain ethnic groups of central Mexico, particularly those groups who spoke the Nahuatl language and who dominated large parts of Mesoamerica in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, a period referred to as the late post-classic period in Mesoamerican chronology.Aztec is the...

 empire. The Spanish conquest of Yucatán
Spanish conquest of Yucatán
The Spanish conquest of Yucatán was the campaign undertaken by the Spanish conquistadores against the Late Postclassic Maya states and polities, particularly in the northern and central Yucatán Peninsula but also involving the Maya polities of the Guatemalan highlands region...

 is the much longer campaign, from 1551–1697, against the Maya peoples
Maya peoples
The Maya people constitute a diverse range of the Native American people of southern Mexico and northern Central America. The overarching term "Maya" is a collective designation to include the peoples of the region who share some degree of cultural and linguistic heritage; however, the term...

 of the Maya civilization
Maya civilization
The Maya is a Mesoamerican civilization, noted for the only known fully developed written language of the pre-Columbian Americas, as well as for its art, architecture, and mathematical and astronomical systems. Initially established during the Pre-Classic period The Maya is a Mesoamerican...

 in the Yucatán Peninsula
Yucatán Peninsula
The Yucatán Peninsula, in southeastern Mexico, separates the Caribbean Sea from the Gulf of Mexico, with the northern coastline on the Yucatán Channel...

 of present day Mexico and northern Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

. The day Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro, 1st Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century...

 landed ashore at present day Veracruz
Veracruz, Veracruz
Veracruz, officially known as Heroica Veracruz, is a major port city and municipality on the Gulf of Mexico in the Mexican state of Veracruz. The city is located in the central part of the state. It is located along Federal Highway 140 from the state capital Xalapa, and is the state's most...

, April 22, 1519, marks the beginning of 300 years of Spanish hegemony
Hegemony
Hegemony is an indirect form of imperial dominance in which the hegemon rules sub-ordinate states by the implied means of power rather than direct military force. In Ancient Greece , hegemony denoted the politico–military dominance of a city-state over other city-states...

 over the region.

Peru

In 1532 at the Battle of Cajamarca
Battle of Cajamarca
The Battle of Cajamarca was a surprise attack on the Inca royal entourage orchestrated by Francisco Pizarro. Sprung on the evening of November 16, 1532, in the great plaza of Cajamarca, the ambush achieved the goal of capturing the Inca, Atahualpa, and claimed the lives of thousands of his...

 a group of Spanish soldiers under Francisco Pizarro
Francisco Pizarro
Francisco Pizarro González, Marquess was a Spanish conquistador, conqueror of the Incan Empire, and founder of Lima, the modern-day capital of the Republic of Peru.-Early life:...

 and their indigenous Andean Indian auxiliaries
Indian auxiliaries
Auxiliary Indians or indios auxiliares is the term used in old Spanish chronicles and historical texts for the indigenous peoples who were integrated into the armies of the Spanish conquerors with the purpose of supporting their advance and combat operations during the Conquest of America...

native allies ambushed and captured the Emperor Atahualpa
Atahualpa
Atahualpa, Atahuallpa, Atabalipa, or Atawallpa , was the last Sapa Inca or sovereign emperor of the Tahuantinsuyu, or the Inca Empire, prior to the Spanish conquest of Peru...

 of the Inca Empire
Inca Empire
The Inca Empire, or Inka Empire , was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. The administrative, political and military center of the empire was located in Cusco in modern-day Peru. The Inca civilization arose from the highlands of Peru sometime in the early 13th century...

. It was the first step in a long campaign that took decades of fighting to subdue the mightiest empire
Empire
The term empire derives from the Latin imperium . Politically, an empire is a geographically extensive group of states and peoples united and ruled either by a monarch or an oligarchy....

 in the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

. In the following years Spain extended its rule over the Empire of the Inca civilization
Inca civilization
The Andean civilizations made up a loose patchwork of different cultures that developed from the highlands of Colombia to the Atacama Desert. The Andean civilizations are mainly based on the cultures of Ancient Peru and some others such as Tiahuanaco. The Inca Empire was the last sovereign...

.

The Spanish took advantage of a recent civil war between the factions of the two brothers Emperor Atahualpa
Atahualpa
Atahualpa, Atahuallpa, Atabalipa, or Atawallpa , was the last Sapa Inca or sovereign emperor of the Tahuantinsuyu, or the Inca Empire, prior to the Spanish conquest of Peru...

 and Huáscar
Huáscar
Huáscar Inca was Sapa Inca of the Inca empire from 1527 to 1532 AD, succeeding his father Huayna Capac and brother Ninan Cuyochi, both of whom died of smallpox while campaigning near Quito.After the conquest, the Spanish put forth the idea that Huayna Capac may have...

, and the enmity of indigenous nations the Incas had subjugated, such as the Huancas, Chachapoyas
Chachapoyas culture
The Chachapoyas, also called the Warriors of the Clouds, were an Andean people living in the cloud forests of the Amazonas region of present-day Peru. The Incas conquered their civilization shortly before the arrival of the Spanish in Peru. When the Spanish arrived in Peru in the 16th century, the...

, and Cañaris
Cañaris
The Cañari are an indigenous ethnic group traditionally inhabiting the territory of the modern provinces of Azuay and Cañar in Ecuador; the term also refers to an independent pre-Hispanic tribal confederation of the same name, from which the modern people are descended. They are particularly noted...

. In the following years the conquistador
Conquistador
Conquistadors were Spanish soldiers, explorers, and adventurers who brought much of the Americas under the control of Spain in the 15th to 16th centuries, following Europe's discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus in 1492...

s and indigenous allies extended control over the greater Andes region. The Viceroyalty of Perú
Viceroyalty of Peru
Created in 1542, the Viceroyalty of Peru was a Spanish colonial administrative district that originally contained most of Spanish-ruled South America, governed from the capital of Lima...

 was established in 1542.

Río de la Plata and Paraguay

European explorers arrived to Río de la Plata
Río de la Plata
The Río de la Plata —sometimes rendered River Plate in British English and the Commonwealth, and occasionally rendered [La] Plata River in other English-speaking countries—is the river and estuary formed by the confluence of the Uruguay River and the Paraná River on the border between Argentina and...

 in 1516. Their first Spanish settlement in modern this zone was the Fort of Sancti Spiritu established in 1527 next to the Paraná River
Paraná River
The Paraná River is a river in south Central South America, running through Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina for some . It is second in length only to the Amazon River among South American rivers. The name Paraná is an abbreviation of the phrase "para rehe onáva", which comes from the Tupi language...

. Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina, and the second-largest metropolitan area in South America, after São Paulo. It is located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata, on the southeastern coast of the South American continent...

, a permanent colony, was established in 1536 and in 1537 Asunción
Asunción
Asunción is the capital and largest city of Paraguay.The "Ciudad de Asunción" is an autonomous capital district not part of any department. The metropolitan area, called Gran Asunción, includes the cities of San Lorenzo, Fernando de la Mora, Lambaré, Luque, Mariano Roque Alonso, Ñemby, San...

 was established in the area that is now Paraguay
Paraguay
Paraguay , officially the Republic of Paraguay , is a landlocked country in South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Paraguay lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the...

. Buenos aires suffered attacks by the indigenous peoples that forced the settlers away, and in 1541 the site was abandoned. A second (and permanent) settlement was established in 1580 by Juan de Garay
Juan de Garay
Juan de Garay was a Spanish conquistador.Garay was born in Orduña, Spain. He served under the Spanish crown, in the Viceroyalty of Peru...

, who arrived by sailing down the Paraná River
Paraná River
The Paraná River is a river in south Central South America, running through Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina for some . It is second in length only to the Amazon River among South American rivers. The name Paraná is an abbreviation of the phrase "para rehe onáva", which comes from the Tupi language...

 from Asunción
Asunción
Asunción is the capital and largest city of Paraguay.The "Ciudad de Asunción" is an autonomous capital district not part of any department. The metropolitan area, called Gran Asunción, includes the cities of San Lorenzo, Fernando de la Mora, Lambaré, Luque, Mariano Roque Alonso, Ñemby, San...

 (now the capital of Paraguay
Paraguay
Paraguay , officially the Republic of Paraguay , is a landlocked country in South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Paraguay lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the...

). He dubbed the settlement "Santísima Trinidad
Santísima Trinidad
Santisima Trinidad may refer to:* The fortress of Santísima Trinidad in the Kingdom of Chile that existed on the north shore of the Bio Bio River in what is now the commune of Laja in the Biobío Province of Chile....

" and its port became "Puerto de Santa María de los Buenos Aires." The city came to be the head of the Governorate of the Río de la Plata and in 1776 elevated to be the capital of the new Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata
Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata
The Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, , was the last and most short-lived Viceroyalty of the Spanish Empire in America.The Viceroyalty was established in 1776 out of several former Viceroyalty of Perú dependencies that mainly extended over the Río de la Plata basin, roughly the present day...

.

Governing

Spain's administration of its colonies in the Americas was divided into the Viceroyalty of New Spain 1535 (capital, México City
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

), and the Viceroyalty of Peru
Viceroyalty of Peru
Created in 1542, the Viceroyalty of Peru was a Spanish colonial administrative district that originally contained most of Spanish-ruled South America, governed from the capital of Lima...

 1542 (capital, Lima
Lima
Lima is the capital and the largest city of Peru. It is located in the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers, in the central part of the country, on a desert coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Together with the seaport of Callao, it forms a contiguous urban area known as the Lima...

). In the 18th century the additional Viceroyalty of New Granada
Viceroyalty of New Granada
The Viceroyalty of New Granada was the name given on 27 May 1717, to a Spanish colonial jurisdiction in northern South America, corresponding mainly to modern Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela. The territory corresponding to Panama was incorporated later in 1739...

 1717 (capital, Bogotá), and Viceroyalty of Rio de la Plata 1776 (capital, Buenos Aires) were established from portions of the Viceroyalty of Peru.

This evolved from the Council of the Indies and Viceroyalties into an Intendant
Intendant
The title of intendant has been used in several countries through history. Traditionally, it refers to the holder of a public administrative office...

 system, in an attempt for more revenue and efficiency.

19th century

During the Peninsular War
Peninsular War
The Peninsular War was a war between France and the allied powers of Spain, the United Kingdom, and Portugal for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. The war began when French and Spanish armies crossed Spain and invaded Portugal in 1807. Then, in 1808, France turned on its...

 in Europe between France and Spain, assemblies called juntas
Junta (Peninsular War)
In the Napoleonic era, junta was the name chosen by several local administrations formed in Spain during the Peninsular War as a patriotic alternative to the official administration toppled by the French invaders...

were established to rule in the name of Ferdinand VII of Spain.
The Libertadores
Libertadores
Libertadores refers to the principal leaders of the Latin American wars of independence from Spain. They are named that way in contrast with the Conquistadors, who were so far the only Spanish peoples recorded in the South American history...

 (Spanish and Portuguese for "Liberators") were the principal leaders of the Latin American wars of independence from Spain. They were predominantly criollos
Criollo people
The Criollo class ranked below that of the Iberian Peninsulares, the high-born permanent residence colonists born in Spain. But Criollos were higher status/rank than all other castes—people of mixed descent, Amerindians, and enslaved Africans...

(local-born people of European, mostly of Spanish or Portuguese, ancestry), bourgeois and influenced by liberalism
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 and in most cases with military training in the mother country
Homeland
A homeland is the concept of the place to which an ethnic group holds a long history and a deep cultural association with —the country in which a particular national identity began. As a common noun, it simply connotes the country of one's origin...

.

In 1809 the first declarations of independence from Spanish rule occurred in the Viceroyalty of New Granada
Viceroyalty of New Granada
The Viceroyalty of New Granada was the name given on 27 May 1717, to a Spanish colonial jurisdiction in northern South America, corresponding mainly to modern Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela. The territory corresponding to Panama was incorporated later in 1739...

. The first two were in present day Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

 at Sucre
Sucre
Sucre, also known historically as Charcas, La Plata and Chuquisaca is the constitutional capital of Bolivia and the capital of the department of Chuquisaca. Located in the south-central part of the country, Sucre lies at an elevation of 2750m...

 (May 25), and La Paz
La Paz
Nuestra Señora de La Paz is the administrative capital of Bolivia, as well as the departmental capital of the La Paz Department, and the second largest city in the country after Santa Cruz de la Sierra...

 ( July 16); and the third in present day Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

 at Quito
Quito
San Francisco de Quito, most often called Quito , is the capital city of Ecuador in northwestern South America. It is located in north-central Ecuador in the Guayllabamba river basin, on the eastern slopes of Pichincha, an active stratovolcano in the Andes mountains...

 (August 10). In 1810 Mexico declared independence, with the Mexican War of Independence
Mexican War of Independence
The Mexican War of Independence was an armed conflict between the people of Mexico and the Spanish colonial authorities which started on 16 September 1810. The movement, which became known as the Mexican War of Independence, was led by Mexican-born Spaniards, Mestizos and Amerindians who sought...

 following for over a decade. In 1821 Treaty of Córdoba
Treaty of Córdoba
The Treaty of Córdova established Mexican independence from Spain at the conclusion of the Mexican War of Independence. It was signed on August 24, 1821 in Córdoba, Veracruz, Mexico. The signatories were the head of the Army of the Three Guarantees, Agustín de Iturbide, and acting on behalf of the...

 established Mexican independence from Spain and concluded the War. The Plan of Iguala
Plan of Iguala
Plan of Iguala, also known as Plan of the Three Guarantees , was a peace treaty proclaimed on February 24, 1821, in the final stage of Mexican War of Independence from Spain. The plan attempted to establish a constitutional foundation upon which an independent Mexican Empire would be based...

 was part of the peace treaty to establish a constitutional foundation for an independent Mexico.

These began a movement for colonial independence that spread to Spain's other colonies in the Americas. The ideas from the French
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 and the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

 influenced the efforts. All of the colonies, except Cuba and Puerto Rico, attained independence by the 1820s. The British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 offered support, wanting to end the Spanish monopoly on trade with its colonies in the Americas.

In 1898, the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 won victory in the Spanish-American War
Spanish-American War
The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States, effectively the result of American intervention in the ongoing Cuban War of Independence...

 from Spain, ending the colonial era. Spanish possession and rule of its remaining colonies in the Americas ended in that year with its ownership transfer to the United States. The U.S. took occupation of Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

, the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

, and Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

. The latter possession now officially continues as a self-governing unincorporated territory of the United States.

Demographic impact

It has been estimated that in the 16th century about 240,000 Spaniards emigrated to America, and in the 17th century about 500,000, predominantly to Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 and Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

.

Before the arrival of Columbus, in Hispaniola the indigenous Taíno pre-contact population of several hundred thousand declined to sixty thousand by 1509. Although population estimates vary, Father Bartolomé de las Casas
Bartolomé de Las Casas
Bartolomé de las Casas O.P. was a 16th-century Spanish historian, social reformer and Dominican friar. He became the first resident Bishop of Chiapas, and the first officially appointed "Protector of the Indians"...

, the “Defender of the Indians” estimated there were 6 million (6,000,000) Taíno
Taíno people
The Taínos were pre-Columbian inhabitants of the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and the northern Lesser Antilles. It is thought that the seafaring Taínos are relatives of the Arawak people of South America...

 and Arawak in the Caribbean at the time of Columbus's arrival in 1492.

The population of the Native Amerindian population in Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 declined by an estimated 90% (reduced to 1 - 2.5 million people) by the early 17th century. In Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

 the indigenous Amerindian pre-contact population of around 6.5 million declined to 1 million by the early 17th century.

Of the history of the indigenous population of California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, Sherburne F. Cook
Sherburne F. Cook
Sherburne Friend Cook was a physiologist by training, and served as professor and chairman of the department of physiology at the University of California, Berkeley...

 (1896–1974) was the most painstakingly careful researcher. From decades of research he made estimates for the pre-contact population and the history of demographic decline during the Spanish and post-Spanish periods. According to Cook, the indigenous Californian population at first contact, in 1769, was about 310,000 and had dropped to 25,000 by 1910. The vast majority of the decline happened after the Spanish period, in the Mexican
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 and U.S. periods of Californian history (1821–1910), with the most dramatic collapse (200,000 to 25,000) occurring in the U.S. period (1846–1910).

Cultural impact

The Spaniards were committed, by Vatican decree, to convert their New World
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

 indigenous subjects to Catholicism. However, often initial efforts were questionably successful, as the indigenous people added Catholicism
Catholicism
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

 into their longstanding traditional ceremonies and beliefs. The many native expressions, forms, practices, and items of art could be considered idolatry and prohibited or destroyed by Spanish missionaries, military, and civilians. This included religious items, sculptures, and jewelry made of gold or silver, which were melted down before shipment to Spain.

Though the Spanish did not impose their language to the extent they did their religion, some indigenous languages of the Americas
Indigenous languages of the Americas
Indigenous languages of the Americas are spoken by indigenous peoples from Alaska and Greenland to the southern tip of South America, encompassing the land masses which constitute the Americas. These indigenous languages consist of dozens of distinct language families as well as many language...

 evolved into replacement with Spanish, and lost to present day tribal members. When more efficient they did evangelize in native languages. Introduced writing systems to the Quechua, Nahuatl and Guarani peoples may have contributed to their expansion.

See also

  • Atlantic World
    Atlantic world
    The Atlantic World is an organizing concept for the historical study of the Atlantic Ocean rim from the beginning of the Age of Exploration to the anad modern era. In many ways the history of the "Atlantic world" culminates in the "Atlantic Revolutions" of the late 18th century and early 19th century...

  • Black Legend
    Black Legend
    The Black Legend refers to a style of historical writing that demonizes Spain and in particular the Spanish Empire in a politically motivated attempt to morally disqualify Spain and its people, and to incite animosity against Spanish rule...

  • Habsburg Spain
    Habsburg Spain
    Habsburg Spain refers to the history of Spain over the 16th and 17th centuries , when Spain was ruled by the major branch of the Habsburg dynasty...

  • Inter caetera
    Inter caetera
    Inter caetera was a papal bull issued by Pope Alexander VI on , which granted to Spain all lands to the "west and south" of a pole-to-pole line 100 leagues west and south of any of the islands of the Azores or the Cape Verde Islands.It remains unclear to the present whether the pope was issuing a...

  • List of largest empires
  • Old Spanish Trail (trade route)
    Old Spanish Trail (trade route)
    The Old Spanish Trail is a historical trade route which connected the northern New Mexico settlements near or in Santa Fe, New Mexico with that of Los Angeles, California and southern California. Approximately long, it ran through areas of high mountains, arid deserts, and deep canyons. It is...

  • Population history of indigenous peoples of the Americas
  • Smallpox Epidemics in the New World
  • Spanish conquest of Guatemala
    Spanish conquest of Guatemala
    The Spanish conquest of Guatemala was a conflict that formed a part of the Spanish colonization of the Americas within the territory of what became the modern country of Guatemala in Central America...

  • Valladolid debate
    Valladolid debate
    The Valladolid debate concerned the treatment of natives of the New World. Held in the Colegio de San Gregorio, in the Spanish city of Valladolid, it opposed two main attitudes towards the conquests of the Americas...



Further reading

  • David A. Brading, The First America: The Spanish Monarchy, Creole Patriots, and the Liberal State, I492-1867 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by Henry VIII in 1534, it is the world's oldest publishing house, and the second largest university press in the world...

    , 1993).
  • María M. Portuondo, Secret Science: Spanish Cosmography and the New World (Chicago, Chicago UP, 2009).

External links

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