The Indigenous Landscape Although specific population estimates vary wildly, the Americas were home to tens of millions of people before the arrival of Columbus.
Silver, Sovereignty, and the Spanish Empire Spain established what was by far the largest empire in the Americas, extending from southwestern North America to northern Chile. During the colonial period, Portuguese dominion in this region was largely limited to the coast. Indigenous communities fought back against British incursions and were often successful during the 17th and 18th centuries.
Demographic impact[ edit ] It has been estimated that over 1. According to Cook, the indigenous Californian population at first contact, inwas aboutand had dropped to 25, by These began a movement for colonial independence that spread to Spain's other colonies in the Americas.
Despite these pandemics, many indigenous cultures managed to resist European dominion throughout the colonial era. Many were run by democratically-elected legislatures, though only white men who owned property could vote. Contact with Europeans exposed these peoples to these diseases, leading to the most devastating series of pandemics in human history.
Whereas the Spanish and Portuguese administered their colonies directly, British colonies in North America were largely autonomous. As long as they paid taxes and followed British trading laws, the colonies were free to make their own decisions.