South and Central America
At the beginning of the 1500s Europeans encountered a number of civilizations, which were characterised by technological development, in Mesoamerica (part of Central America) and the Andes.
These empires were quickly subjugated by the Spanish invaders, who established colonial administration and introduced Christianity.
The Spaniards plundered the empires of their abundant gold and silver, which was then transported to Europe. The pre-Spanish (pre-Columbian) cultures are known especially for their architectural ruins and their wealth of archaeological finds.