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Colonial Influence on Population Settlement

Colonial Influence on Population Settlement

The events that accompanied colonization had an overwhelming impact on the vast continent of the Mesoamerica. This was especially in terms of significant changes in the previous indigenous population, cultural transformations, demographic changes, and material changes. “The consequences of contact for the Lacandon echoed earlier post conquest processes in Mesoamerica, including demographic decline, foreign colonization of lands, change in local economies, shifts in social and political organization, conversion to Christianity, and assimilation”. These aspects represented a significant progression by revolutionizing the Mesoamerican landscape, and these events were essentially brought forward into the present.

There was significant displacement of previously established traditional settlements leading to significant changes in the settlement patterns.  “Before this period of renewed conquest, colonization, and culture change, larger Lacandon Maya populations were located throughout the lowlands of Chiapas and Petén. The subsequent shifts in settlement patterns and their shrinking territory correlate with demographic decline, but it is currently difficult to estimate the exact change in overall population over time”. These changes in population patterns are still visible to the present times through constant archeological studies discoveries. In essence, the present settlement patterns exhibit multi-racial and ethnic patterns, which are largely attributed to the initial colonization process.

The changes in demographic composition of the indigenous population of the Mesoamerica are vivid as continuously revealed by archeological discoveries. This could be largely attributed to an influx of the Spanish during this time. “Spain’s overseas colonization of the Americas is emblematic of imperial process during the age of European expansion-hence the Spanish transition in Mesoamerica constitutes a crucial case study in the comparative archeological studies…”. Hence, the massive presence of the Spanish in some of the Mesoamerican pockets is largely attributed to this significant process.

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Effects of Colonization on Population Settlements of South America

The impact of colonization on the South American block had significant effects on the racial composition, language distribution, and change in the settlement patterns. South America has one of the greatest “The earliest humans in South America, perhaps as many as 30,000 years ago, were prehistoric nomadic hunters. Their descendants became settled farmers and craftsmen about 8,000 years ago. The European expansion into the New World in the early 16th century rapidly transformed the social organization of the region”. Moreover, one of the critical social organization effects is the significant change to the native South American tribes, which can be seen in the present lifestyles.

The entrance of people from outside the South American lands had a positive cultural effect focusing on religious fundamentals and race composition. “The Spanish and Portuguese, followed later by other nationalities, all added new languages, religions and customs to the cultural mix, as did millions of imported African slaves”. This saw the significant introduction of different ethnicities, which at first had a significant problem in integrating for a long time due to the existence of superior and inferior complexes in these societies, especially due to the impact of slave trade. “Despite this ethnic diversity, South Americans are united by the Spanish language (understood if not actually spoken by most people outside Brazil, where Portuguese is the majority language), the Roman Catholic religion, and the twin popular obsessions of music and soccer”. Therefore, through interaction from those time to the present the present South American population exhibits admirable dynamism focusing on cultural perspectives.

The events of colonization also led to the significant changes in distribution of native settlements, leading to their displacement, which in turn led to a change in the existing settlement patterns. “When Spanish and Portuguese explorers reached South America in the 16th century they found a marked contrast between the Amerindian populations who lived in the Andes and those who lived in the lowlands – and these differences still hold good today”. Hence, in the present population patterns exhibited in the Andes and lowlands can be traced through archeological research studies that are currently ongoing. On the other hand, “The highlands were dominated by the Incas, who had rapidly expanded their empire by conquest in the previous century and controlled a territory that stretched from what is known today as Ecuador through the length of Peru and into central Chile…their southward expansion was halted by the Mapuche Indians who held back the Incas armies, as they later would Spanish”.

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Changes in terms of the South American racial composition are another significant feature, which can be attributed to the presence of the occurrence of colonization. For instance, the presence of the black race in the South America even in the present times is largely attributed to this fact. “…only about 12 percent of South Americans today are black, roughly the same proportion as in the United States. They are concentrated in the old plantation zones of northeastern Brazil and along the Caribbean coast. Their impact on popular South American culture has been highly visible”. This can be adequately traced back to the interactions that have largely taken place since their entrance through slave trade.

The influx of minority populations can also be attributed to the events of colonization, which saw the inception of trade activities, consequently attracting business interests from the Middle East countries. That explains why, “Every South American country also hosts an Arab minority, whose trading skills underlie an economic importance out of all proportion to their size”. These minorities primarily found their way into the South American lands through colonization and presently spread throughout the South American continent, although in some parts cannot be significantly felt.

Effects of Colonization on Population Settlements of Caribbean

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Colonization had a predominantly negative impact on the demographic spread of the Caribbean. This potentially led to complete elimination of the initial Caribbean native population due to the onset of conditions that saw the original number of the natives deteriorate significantly. For instance, “At the time of European conquest, indigenous populations if the Caribbean were estimated at 2-4 million”. This number was relatively low compared to other colonies that the Europeans colonized, hence by virtue of their numbers; the native Caribbean population was not sustainable. As a result, “The original inhabitants of the Caribbean islands disappeared almost completely, as did populations in lowland Brazil, the Amazon, and other areas around the Caribbean Sea”. These areas were in potentially remote locations where diversity was an important component of the ecosystem.

The Caribbean became fundamentally replaced by other races, which essentially took over the fertile lands of the Caribbean. For instance, in the Dutch dominated Caribbean colonies there was a significant presence of the Dutch. “A comparable ambivalent blessing lay in the continuing growth of the Caribbean Dutch population. The increasing numbers and concentration created the condition for the emergence of ‘ethnic’ enclaves which functioned as havens in a heartless world. However, precisely this new security may have hindered integration and social mobility”. It has also been established through research that the lessened impact of interaction of the European colonies and the local Caribbean tribes could have contributed to their disappearance. “In the meantime the Caribbean community in the Netherlands has continued to grow. The Surinam community today is estimated at over 275,000. The Antillean community, mainly from Curacao, has increased to the present figure of 90,000”. This serves to expose the fact that in as much as the native lands of the Caribbean lost a significant number of people, some of the native tribes could have migrated to the European lands and set base there. Finally, the disappearance of the native Caribbean populations could party be blamed on the relative inability to resist diseases. “In the Caribbean in particular, the native population declined precipitously; European disease created a problem there as everywhere else in the Western Hemisphere. As the Indian population dwindled (and in the Caribbean, disappeared)”


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