The Age of Exploration and Exploitation

The Spanish, English, Portuguese, French, began colonizing the Western Hemisphere in the 1500s.

Spanish America XVIII Century (Most Expansion)

Spanish America XVIII Century (Most Expansion) By Jluisrs (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Spanish were the earliest and most powerful colonizers during this time, dominating South and Central America as well as southwestern North America. They also had a strong role in developing colonies in the Caribbean.

The treatment of indigenous peoples by the Spanish and other European colonizers was often brutal. Estimates of the number of native peoples killed through contact with Europeans (through war or disease) number in the millions.

Bartolome De Las Casas’s account of the “Destruction of the Indies” is one of the most detailed accounts of these early years.