Amerindian before Columbus and the Physical Geography of the Caribbean

Last Updated: 13 Jan 2021
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Much of America history is recorded from the time Columbus and his team of explores landed in the Caribbean region.

The first reaction to establishment of Spanish in the Caribbean region was the policy of extermination in which millions of the original inhabitants lost their life.  Although it has become controversial on the exact number of inhabitants living in the region before the coming of the Columbus, it remains clear there were a large number of indigenous people and the coming of Columbus really changed their life.

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The nature of the Native Americans remains a controversial issue since it is argued that on his arrival Christopher Columbus mistook the inhabitants for Indians. This is because he though he had arrived in East Indies since he was seeking sea route to India.

The culture of Amerindian before Columbus

The pre-Columbian civilization in the region is though to have been quite advances more that what was projected at the time. It has been revealed that there was a high level of development from social organization to development in agriculture and other sciences which were applied in agriculture and in political expansion.

Notably among this civilization was the expansive Maya empire which had flourished and expanded from Mexico to Central American but which later collapsed owing to social and political strife, diseases and other ecological disasters, and man other factors (Mann, 1999).

The geography of the region shows a very fertile soil and seasons of heavy rainfall. This means that the area had a very high agricultural potential which was well exploited by the inhabitants.

The economic landscape of the people before the coming of Europeans is mixed. While a good number of the indigenous inhabitants were hunters and gatherers, there was also a good number which practiced aquaculture and agriculture.

There is evidence that some of the people lived on mixed agriculture keeping animals and growing crops. Therefore we can say that before the coming of Columbus, the original inhabitants had their own organized social life and varying economic activities in line with the rich agricultural potential of the land.

When the European came and conquered the region, there were several changes that took place. First they immediately realized the rich agricultural potential of the land and their settlement pattern was concentrated in rich agricultural areas. What followed was mass extermination of the indigenous inhabitants so as to set up large scale lands for the Europeans.

It is in this land that they grew sugar plantations and other cash crops. This led to massive enslavement of the indigenous people in order to provide labor in these large plantations. The setting up of plantations changed the approach that Europeans were using in dealing with the native.

The policy of mass extermination   quickly changed to mass enslavement to provide free labor. There was also discovery of mineral like gold which led toe increased trade and setting up of industries. (Mann, 1999)


It is still controversial whether Columbus discovered South America or not. However there were original inhabitants in the land who Columbus referred to as Indians.

The inhabitants were social organized and they practiced agriculture although a good number were hunters and gatherers. When European came they realized the agricultural potential of the land and immediately set up large plantation where they enslaved the indigenous people to provide free labor.


Mann, C. (1999): New Revelation of the Americans before Columbus. New York: Knopf Publishing

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Amerindian before Columbus and the Physical Geography of the Caribbean. (2016, Jun 07). Retrieved from

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