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Flammans of St. Martin.

Flammans of St. Martin.

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The Native Americans were the first inhabitants of the Americas. They settled in different regions and formed independent tribes with distinct cultures. By 1492 there were over 300 separate native languages. When Christopher Columbus landed on October 12, 1492, he thought he had reached India, and called the native people Indians, a name which gave them a collective identity. The Indians, Columbus reported, "are so naive and so free with their possessions that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no. To the contrary, they offer to share with anyone...."

In the late sixteenth century, French, English and Dutch merchant and privateer ships began attacking Spanish and Portuguese in West Indies coastal areas. They had bases in the places the Spanish could not conquer, such as the Lesser Antilles, the northern coast of South America, the mouth of the Orinoco, and the Atlantic Coast of Central America. They managed to establish their foot on St Kitts in 1624 and Barbados in 1626. When the Sugar Revolution took off, they brought in thousands of African slaves to work the fields and mills. English, Dutch, French and Spanish colonists, and in many cases their slaves from Africa first entered and then occupied the coast of The Guianas. The Dutch, allied with the Caribs of the Orinoco carried the fight against Spanish in all South America. The English of Jamaica established alliances with the Miskito Kingdom of modern-day Nicaragua and Honduras, and began logging on the coast of modern-day Belize. These interconnected commercial and diplomatic relations made up the Western Caribbean Zone which was in place in the early eighteenth century. West Indies gave names to several West India companies of the 17th and 18th centuries, including the Danish West India Company, the Dutch West India Company, the French West India Company, and the Swedish West India Company.





Ogilby, John (1600-1676), Author
Montanus, Arnoldus (1625?-1683 ), Cartographer




New York Public Library

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