History of South America

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The history of South America is the study of the past, particularly the written record, oral histories, and traditions, passed down from generation to generation on the continent in the Earth's western hemisphere and (chiefly) southern hemisphere. South America has a history that spans the full range of human cultural and civilizational forms. While millennia of independent development were interrupted by the Spanish and Portuguese colonization drive of the late 15th century and the demographic collapse that followed, the continent's mestizo and indigenous cultures remain quite distinct from those of their colonizers. Through the trans-Atlantic slave trade, South America (especially Brazil) became the home of millions of people in the African diaspora. The mixing of races led to new social structures. The tensions between colonial countries in Europe, indigenous peoples and escaped slaves shaped South America from the 16th through the 19th Centuries. With the revolution for independence from Spanish crown during the 19th century, South America underwent another social and political change that lasted until the early 1900s.

Contents

Pre-Columbian era

Agriculture and domestication of animals

The Americas are thought to have been first inhabited by people crossing the Bering Land Bridge from Asia, which is now the Bering Strait. Over the course of millennia, people spread to all parts of the continent.

The first evidence for the existence of agricultural practices in South America dates back to circa 6500 BCE, when potatoes, chilies and beans began to be cultivated for food in the Amazon Basin. Pottery evidence further suggests that manioc, which remains a staple foodstuff today, was being cultivated as early as 2000 BCE.[1]

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