The history of the Americas begins with their colonization by
Americans from Asia, who went on to establish civilizations such as
the Maya, the Toltecs, the Aztecs, the Inca, and the Iroquois.
The North American continent was first colonized by Asian nomads that
crossed the frozen Bering Strait sometime around 20,000 BC. These tribes
quickly spread out, reaching Cape Horn roughly 10,000 years later. Although
several large, centralized civilizations developed in the western hemisphere
(e.g., the Inca in the Andes, the Aztecs and the Maya in Central America),
no comparable civilization occurred in North America due to a lack of domesticable
crops. By the 15th century AD, corn had been transmitted from Mexico and
was being farmed in the Mississippi Valley, but further developments were
cut short by the arrival of Europeans.
The continent was rediscovered by Europeans later. Initially the Vikings
established a short-lived settlement in Newfoundland. Theories exist about
earlier and later Old World discoveries of the east coast (or of the west
coast by the Chinese), but none of these are considered proven. It was
the later voyage of Christopher
Columbus that led to extensive European
colonization of the Americas. Direct control from Europe began to unravel
on July 4, 1776 with the United States Declaration of Independence.
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