Latin America Pt. 1
Latin America The term Latin America applies to lands south of the United States where either Spanish, Portuguese or French is the main language (all of these languages having developed from Latin). Society in Latin America has been influenced heavily by both European and African culture.
The Conquest of Latin America • The conquest of Latin America was led by two main European powers: Spain and Portugal. Conquistadors (soldiers) from these countries were sent in the 1500 and 1600s were able to take control of the land from the native empires by using superior military technology. Conquistadors like Hernan Cortes used steel swords, horses, and guns to conquer the large native empires like the Aztec.
Effect on Populations • As the Europeans started to migrate to Latin America, a large percentage of the native population was devastated by diseases. In fact 90% of the natives died from 1500c.e.-1600 c.e. • Europeans also started to import African slaves to work on the plantations that were being established. Millions of Africans were taken to Latin America during the first 100 years after the European conquest.
Establishment of colonies • European powers established colonies in Latin America to try to acquire money and resources for their home countries. Some major cities were established as capitals for the colonies and served as outposts of colonial authority. • Spanish Outposts included: • Mexico City (Mexico) • Havana (Cuba) • Lima (Peru) • Buenos Aires (Argentina) • Portuguese Outposts • Sao Paulo (Brazil) Sao Paulo was the first permanent Portuguese colony.
Colonial Governments: Viceroys • Spain and Portugal tried to model their new colonies’ governments on their home governments back in Europe which were absolute monarchies. • The highest ranking Conquistadors were appointed as viceroys. Viceroys were essentially the absolute monarchs of these colonies since the king was thousands of miles away in Europe. Viceroy comes from “vice-royalty.” Viceroys were like assistant or “vice” kings and had absolute authority in their colony
Rigid Class Structure • Under the rule of the viceroys, a rigid class structure developed based on race. • Under this system people were ranked in the following way: #1 Peninsulares: those born in Europe #2 Creoles: born in America, but of European descent #3 Mulattos (Mixed African and European) & Mestizos (mixed European and Native) #4 Africans #5 Native Americans All people in this class structure started to speak the European languages.
The economy of Latin American colonies. • Latin American colonies had economies based primarily on two things. • One major element was the mining of precious metals such as gold and silver. Natives and slaves were almost exclusively used as workers for these tasks. • Another major element was agriculture. Plantations grew crops such as sugarcane to sell for profit back in Europe. • Large estates known as haciendas were established around profitable mines and plantations.
Religion • Spain and Portugal were both Catholic countries, and Catholic missionaries were sent not long after the discovery of the Americas to convert both natives and slaves to Christianity. • This has been a lasting influence as most people in Latin America are still today members of the Catholic faith. Christ the Redeemer is a statue that overlooks Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It represents the common bond Christianity serves for the diverse people of Brazil