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Columbus landed with his three ships on the island of Hispaniola in 1492. Hispaniola is now divided into the countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. With the advantage of metal armor, weapons, and other advanced technology, the Spanish invaders quickly dominated the local people. Since Europe was going through a period of competition, warfare, and technological advancements, the same mind-set carried forward to the New World. Indigenous people were most often made servants of the Europeans, and resistance resulted in conflict, war, and often death. The Spanish soldiers, explorers, or adventurers called conquistadors were looking for profits and quick gain and ardently sought gold, silver, and precious gems. This quest for gain pitted the European invaders against the local groups. The Roman Catholic religion was brought over from Europe and at times was zealously pushed on the local “heathens” with a “repent or perish” method of conversion.

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Though the region of Mexico has been inhabited for thousands of years, one of the earliest cultures to develop into a civilization with large cities was the Olmec, which was believed to be the precursor to the later Mayan Empire. The Olmec flourished in the south-central regions of Mexico from 1200 BCE to about 400 BCE. Anthropologists call this region of Mexico and northern Central America . It is considered to be the region’s because it was home to early human civilizations. The Maya established a vast civilization after the Olmec, and Mayan stone structures remain as major tourist attractions. The classical era of the Mayan civilization lasted from 300 to 900 CE and was centered in the Yucatán Peninsula region of Mexico, Belize, and Central America. Guatemala was once a large part of this vast empire, and Mayan ruins are found as far south as Honduras. During the classical era, the Maya built some of the most magnificent cities and stone pyramids in the Western Hemisphere. The city-states of the empire functioned through a sophisticated religious hierarchy. The Mayan civilization made advancements in mathematics, astronomy, engineering, and architecture. They developed an accurate calendar based on the seasons and the solar system. The extent of their immense knowledge is still being discovered. The descendants of the Maya people still exist today, but their empire does not.

Source: Updated from map courtesy of University of Texas Libraries, .

Named after the former Ghana Empire, the region of the was home to the Ashanti kingdom, which thrived on the slave trade. Many of the European colonial powers had sought to build fortified beachheads on the coast and profit from the lucrative trade in slaves, gold, and ivory. In the end it was the British that dominated the region and established the Gold Coast colony. The push for independence came in 1957. Ghana was the first European colony to gain independence in Subsaharan Africa.

Why are democracies generally more stable than authoritarian or totalitarian regimes?
[]Seward, M. (2010).The representative claim. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Hiking into the Great Rift Valley region in Tanzania.

The abuses of power escalated to a breaking point in the late 1980s, which set the stage for a decade-long civil war in the 1990s. A group calling themselves the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) pushed to take control of the eastern diamond mining sector through terrorist tactics and brute force. Thousands of people died and thousands more were mutilated by having their arms, legs, or other body parts cut off by machetes. Whole villages were destroyed and the residents killed, tortured, or maimed.

Mainland and Rimland Characteristics of Middle America Based on Colonial-Era Economic Activities

The Serengeti Plains in the Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Christian scholars in those two lands gained much from Islamic knowledge, and scholasticism and the beginnings of modern Western science were derived in part from the Arabs.

Source: Photo courtesy of United States Agency for International Development, .

A Woman in Abidjan, Ivory Coast

The people of Ivory Coast are highly diverse. Religious affiliations are evenly split between Muslim, Christian, and animist. The economic success in agricultural production and recent oil exploration have attracted people from neighboring countries seeking opportunities and advantages. After the 2007 political agreements, approximately 20 percent of the population was made up of immigrant workers from neighboring countries, which are predominantly Muslim. The small percentage of non-Africans are from France, Lebanon, Vietnam, and Spain. There are also a high number of missionaries from North American Protestant churches. Attacks against non-native-born citizens have occurred; qualification for citizenship is a major concern, and natural-born citizens often support stronger restrictions on nonnatives becoming citizens or holding political offices.