South America 1648 CE

The Spanish and Portuguese now control much of South America.

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What is happening in South America in 1648CE

The Inca empire

During the past two centuries, the peoples of South America have seen vast changes.  The Inca conquered the Chimú empire in the 1470’s; and more conquests followed, until they ruled an enormous empire, covering most of western South America.

Contact with Europeans

South America’s history was put on a completely different trajectory with Christopher Columbus‘ discovery of the Americas in the 1490s. In the decades following European contact, disease, enslavement and land seizure destroyed the advanced civilizations of the continent, both in the Andes and the Amazon regions, sending the surviving inhabitants back to a far simpler social organization.

End of the Inca empire

The first catastrophic manifestation of this disaster was the suddenly disintegrated of the great Inca state on the arrival of the Spaniard Francisco Pizzaro in 1532, with his horse-riding, firearms-toting soldiers. Soon much of the continent had come under European – mainly Spanish and Portuguese – rule.

The Spanish empire

The Spanish empire in South America runs from Venezuela in the north to Argentina and Chile in the south. Spanish rule is bolstered by the Catholic Church. Colonial society in the Spanish empire is dominated by the great landowners, descendants of the Conquistadores. The silver mines of Peru, Colombia and Bolivia are the empire’s chief economic asset.

Other European colonies

On the west coast, neglect by the Portuguese of their Brazilian possessions has led other Europeans, notably the Dutch, to establish their own colonies in the region.

Next map, South America in 1789

Dig Deeper

Pre-Columbian civilizations of America

The Inca empire

Latin America in the Colonial Age

European World Empires

The Atlantic Slave Trade

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