North America is a continent that lies entirely in the northern hemisphere and almost completely within the western hemisphere. It is also considered as a northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered in the north by the Arctic Ocean, in the east by the Atlantic Ocean, in the west and south by the Pacific Ocean and in the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea. North America has an area of approximately 24,709,000 km², approximately 4.8% of the surface of the Earth or approximately 16.5% of the land surface. The population is estimated at nearly 529 million people (as of July 2008) spread over 23 independent states. North America is the third largest continent in terms of area, after Asia and Africa and the third largest in terms of continent population after Asia, Africa and Europe.
History North America
It is believed that the first human inhabitants of North America were of Asian origin; they crossed Alaska 20,000 years ago and then headed south through the valley of the Mackenzie River. The European discovery and settlement in North America date from the 10th century, when Normans (986) were lords and masters in Greenland. Although the evidence is patchy, they reached Eastern Canada around the year 1000 under the leadership of Leif Eriksson. The discovery journeys of Christopher Columbus in 1492 and John Cabot's journeys to Eastern Canada (1497) had a greater effect on the continent's further history. Portuguese and French expeditions have also had a major impact on the continent.
History South America
The first settlements in South America are dated around 15,000 BC. and were in the coastal zone of Ecuador and Peru. Around 2700 BC. the first town with stone houses was built in Caral. The development of pottery gives people the opportunity to preserve food longer, so that the native valleys in the Andes can be colonized.
Ancient civilizations are the Chavin culture (1700 - 300 BC), the Mochica culture (0 - 750 AD) and the Nazca culture (200 BC - 1000 AD), all in Peru.
The Incas ruled from 1438 to 1532 over a large area that ran from northern Chile to Ecuador. Their empire was ruled centrally by an emperor from Cuzco. Although civilization had reached a high level, some inventions such as the wheel were unknown to the Incas.
In the 16th century, Spanish and Portuguese explorers began to explore the South American east coast. Lured by stories of a golden kingdom in the interior, they moved further inland. For the local population, the bacteria that Europeans brought was an unprecedented disaster. Estimates indicate that perhaps more than two thirds of the Indian population died of diseases unknown to them, such as the plague to which they had no resistance. Subsequently, the Spanish explorer Francisco Pizarro succeeded in 1532 with a small army in conquering most of the Inca Empire by capturing the emperor. Until 1572, the Incas held out against the Spaniards in parts of their empire. Machu Picchu was such a remote evasive resort.
South America was divided between the Portuguese and Spaniards in 1494 with the treaty of Tordesillas. Brazil became Portuguese, the rest Spanish. In the following centuries South America slowly fell into the hands of both colonial powers, although other European countries, in particular England and the Netherlands, had some influence. When the United States became independent in 1776, the call for independence in South America became stronger. The occupation of Spain by Napoleon in 1808 provided the opportunity for wars of independence. A well-known leader of independence was Simón Bolívar. The decades that followed were marked by great political instability: civil wars broke out almost everywhere and the united republics fell apart in a patchwork of states. Latin America did not stabilize until the last decades of the 19th century; in many countries oligarchic regimes came to power, which under the motto of Orden y Progreso ("order and progress") brought economic prosperity but also brutal oppression.
Around the 1930s, oligarchic regimes were relieved in most countries by populist governments, of which Juan Perón is perhaps the best known. In the 1950s, most of these regimes were replaced by governments that were more democratic, but also more unstable. The result was that coups took place that led to military dictatorships. In the Cold War, the United States feared communist influences in Latin America, interfering with the political situation that often supported military dictatorships. In the 1980s, most countries got into a deep economic crisis. Countries could no longer pay off their debts, which led to hyperinflation. The military regimes could no longer maintain themselves and most of South America was given democratic rule. Towards the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century, many Latin Americans became disillusioned with the neoliberal economic system, and left-wing candidates were elected president in many countries. A well-known example is Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.