History of the Americas

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The history of the Americas is the collective history of North and South America, including Central America and the Caribbean. It begins with people migrating to these areas from Asia during the height of an Ice Age. These groups are generally believed to have been isolated from peoples of the "Old World" until the coming of Europeans in the 10th and 15th centuries.

The ancestors of today's American Indigenous peoples are Paleo-Indians; they were hunter-gatherers who migrated into North America. The most popular theory asserts that migrants came to the Americas via the Bering Land Bridge, Beringia, the land mass covered by the cold ocean waters in the Bering Strait. Small lithic stage peoples followed now-extinct megafauna like bison, mammoth, and caribou, thus gaining the nickname big-game hunters. Groups of people may also have traveled into North America on shelf or sheet ice along the northern Pacific coast.

Cultural traits brought by the first immigrants later evolved and spawned such cultures as Iroquois on North America and Pirahã of South America. These cultures later developed into civilizations. In many cases, these cultures expanded at a later date than their Old World counterparts. Cultures that may be considered advanced or civilized include: Norte Chico, Cahokia, Zapotec, Toltec, Olmec, Maya, Aztec, Purepecha, Chimor, and the Inca.


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