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European colonization

 Indigenous American societies were characterized by hunter-gatherer groups, science and technology, vast knowledge of architecture and mathematics, knowledge of the surrounding environment, and political and cultural stability (Bedini & Buisseret, 1992). However, European settlers arrived in indigenous societies and changed every aspect of indigenous life. They established colonies and increased their wealth. The following are the four European nations that colonized North and Central America.


  • Spain

 During the sixteenth century, Spain began to take over the Western Hemisphere.  Christopher Columbus was an explorer and in his attempt to move from Europe to Asia, he reached America and started exploration (Bedini & Buisseret, 1992). In 1492, Spain attempted to follow Columbus in exploring the Far East but later in 1519, Spain started exploration in South America. By 1525, Spain realized that America is a truly new world and Spaniards started exploration and colonization and settled in Florida between the 1550s and 1560s. Since the first phase of exploration in 1492 until the settlement in peripheral areas, the Spanish colonies did not change its administrative or economic institutions (Bedini & Buisseret, 1992). However, change begun in 1573 when the Spanish established new colonial policies. Formal settlement began in 1493 and Spanish discovered gold in La Espanola. Spaniards continued to settle in other areas where gold was found such as Puerto Rico, Venezuelan, Panamanian coasts. Spaniards started to exploit the native peoples and established their ways of life and improved their status.


  • Portugal

 In the 1400s, Portuguese begun exploration, and during the 1500s, they arrived in Brazil. They mingled with indigenous people of Brazil but six years later they settled in the coastal areas (Mirza, 2007). Portugal and Spain had created a boundary line since Spain had occupied the Pacific coast. The Treaty of Tordesillas approved the boundary line and Portugal officially settled in the Atlantic coast where it starting to rule the land.  Portugal established settlements and it divided the land into 15 captaincies who could control the land. Portugal colonized Brazil and caused significant impacts (Mirza, 2007). The country benefits from Portuguese traditions and lifestyles. The Brazilian culture had Sephardic Jews who maintained their ideas and values in Brazil. Portuguese could also export resources such as brazilwood to their country. There was no conflict or enmity between the Portuguese and indigenous people but they influenced each other and accepted each other's values and ideals.

  • Britain

According to Page (2002), the British Empire spread the English language to the whole world.  Only a small population of indigenous peoples lived in North America and this means that a large part was occupied by British settlers. Therefore, the British had to educate the savage natives the English language. However, they established a direct rule and gave the traditional chiefs the power to rule. This strategy was connected to derive economic benefits. They believed that they were superior and the feeling of superiority influenced them to control the indigenous people. In 1835, the British authorities were against the orientalists and supported Anglicism (Page, 200­2). Therefore, education was structured on the British system. This strategy gave the British colonies the power to change the political and economic institutions. The British also changed the environments in that animals and plants were imported from Europe in the colonial settlement (Page, 200­2). Items such as herds of horses, domestic dogs, cattle, pigs, wooly sheep, and also plants such as thistles and nettle were imported from Europe.

  • France

            Spanish exploration motivated other European nations such as France to engage in exploration and colonization. In 1534, France explored the Western Hemisphere and during the exploration, Jacques Cartier who was an explorer recognized that North America is rich in mineral (Mirza, 2007). Later, Champlain who was also an explorer explored the Caribbean and founded Quebec. In this region, France established the Company of New France which gained a monopoly.  In 1663, France become a royal province and military commanders were employed to maintain peace.  










Bedini, S. A., & Buisseret, D. (1992). The Christopher Columbus encyclopedia. Springer,


Mirza, R. M. S. (2007). The rise and fall of the American empire: A re-interpretation of history,

economics and philosophy : 1492-2006. Victoria, B.C: Trafford.


Page, M. E. (2002). Colonialism: An international social, cultural, and political encyclopedia.

Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO.



709 Words  2 Pages
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