The history of the Americas comprising the Caribbean, Central, North, and South America can be traced back to the time when people began moving in from Asia at the peak of the Ice Age. These ancient settlers remained isolated from the rest of the world till Norwegians started arriving in the 10th cent followed by the expeditions spearheaded by Christopher Columbus in 1492. The Paleolithic-Indians are regarded as the predecessors of the indigenous tribes of America. Most historians believe that the earliest migrants who arrived and settled in North America hailed from the present-day Bering Strait.
The first groups of settlers and colonizers brought cultural peculiarities along with them that gradually evolved leading to the development of the ancient American civilizations including Maya, Inca, Azteca, Mississippian, Toltec, and Zapotec. However, the landscape of the Americas, both from the physical and cultural perspectives, started metamorphosing with the expeditions led by Italian circumnavigators and Spanish conquistadors that began around the 2nd decade of the 15th century and culminated with the voyages undertaken by Christopher Columbus, the first of which was undertaken in 1492.
Columbus’s expeditions paved the way for voyages from leading maritime nations in Europe including Portugal, Spain, Holland, France, and England. These voyages were undertaken with the twin objectives of conquering the newly discovered lands and establishing overseas colonies as well as exploiting the natural and human resources with impunity. Widespread colonization by the Europeans gave rise to the development and evolution of new civilizations and cultures. The blending of the Europeans and the natives in almost every aspect of life led to the formation of states that became well-demarcated in the later decades. Colonial rule or imperialism thrived for three full centuries starting from the early part of the 16th cent and lasting till the end of the 19th cent.