woensdag 12 augustus 2009

introduction no. 2

Who are the native peoples of the American continent? One thing for sure: they are diverse. When Columbus came to America in 1492, millions of people were living there (there = North, Central, and South America: from Greenland to Chile). And they spoke more than a thousand (perhaps even 2000) different languages. Not that strange of course since the entire area is about 42 million sq. kms (16,5 sq miles) which is 4 times the size of Europe and only slightly smaller than Asia. To make things easier, anthropologists defined "Culture Areas". A People living in an area shared more or less the same culture with another people living in the same area. Like we speak today of the "Western World", the "Islamic World", the "East Asian Wold", etc... What follows are a few maps to make this clear. The first ones show the enormous (language) diversity in the Americas prior to 1492 (although the maps aren't 100% correct), the two that follow show the "culture areas" (please note that "culture areas" aren't static. People migrate, borders change, cultures and "culture areas" borrow from each other. Compare it with Muslims and East Asians living in the Western World, East Asians building Western-like cities,
and the debate around the question whether Turkey is a European country or not).

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