Guava is a common tropical fruit cultivated in many tropical and subtropical regions. Psidium guajava is a small tree in the myrtle family, native to Mexico, Central America, northern South America. Although related species may be called guavas, they belong to other species or genera, such as the "pineapple guava" Acca sellowiana. In 2016, India was the largest producer of guavas with 41% of the world total; the most eaten species, the one simply referred to as "the guava", is the apple guava. Guavas are typical Myrtoideae, with tough dark leaves that are opposite, elliptic to ovate and 5–15 centimetres long; the flowers are white, with numerous stamens. The fruits are many-seeded berries; the genera Accara and Acca were included in Psidium. The term "guava" appears to have been derived from Arawak guayabo "guava tree", via the Spanish guayaba, it has been adapted in many Asian languages, having a similar form. Another term for guavas is peru, derived from pear, it is common in countries bordering the western Indian Ocean and derives from Spanish or Portuguese.
In parts of the Indian subcontinent and Middle-East, guava is called amrood a variant of armoot meaning "pear" in the Arabic and Turkish languages. It is known as bayabas in the Philippines. Guavas originated from an area thought to extend from Mexico or Central America and were distributed throughout tropical America and the Caribbean region, they were adopted as a crop in subtropical and tropical Asia, the southern United States, tropical Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Oceania. Guavas are now cultivated in many subtropical countries. Several species are grown commercially. Guavas grow in southwestern Europe the Costa del Sol on Málaga, Greece where guavas have been commercially grown since the middle of the 20th century and they proliferate as cultivars. Mature trees of most species are cold-hardy and can survive temperatures colder than 25 °F for short periods of time, but younger plants will freeze to the ground. Guavas were introduced to Florida in the 19th century and are now grown in Florida as far north as Sarasota, Chipley and Fort Pierce.
However, they are a primary host of the Caribbean fruit fly and must be protected against infestation in areas of Florida where this pest is present. Guavas are of interest to home growers in subtropical areas as one of the few tropical fruits that can grow to fruiting size in pots indoors; when grown from seed, guavas bear fruit as soon as as long as 40 years. Psidium species are used as food plants by the caterpillars of some Lepidoptera moths like the Ello Sphinx, Eupseudosoma aberrans, E. involutum, Hypercompe icasia. Mites, like Pronematus pruni and Tydeus munsteri, are known to be crop pests of the apple guava and other species; the bacterium Erwinia psidii causes rot diseases of the apple guava. Although the fruit is cultivated and favored by humans, many animals and birds consume it dispersing the seeds in their droppings and, in Hawaii, strawberry guava has become an aggressive invasive species threatening extinction to more than 100 other plant species. By contrast, several guava species have become rare due to habitat destruction and at least one, is extinct.
Guava wood is used for meat smoking in Hawaii and is used at barbecue competitions across the United States. In Cuba and Mexico, the leaves are used in barbecues. Guava fruits 4 to 12 centimetres long, are round or oval depending on the species, they have a pronounced and typical fragrance, less sharp. The outer skin may be rough with a bitter taste, or soft and sweet. Varying between species, the skin can be any thickness, is green before maturity, but may be yellow, maroon, or green when ripe; the pulp inside may be sour and off-white to deep pink. The seeds in the central pulp vary depending on species. In 2016, world production of guavas was 46.5 million tonnes, led by India with 41% of the total. Other major producers were Thailand. In Mexico and other Latin American countries, the guava-based beverage agua fresca is popular; the entire fruit is a key ingredient in punch, the juice is used in culinary sauces, candies, dried snacks, fruit bars, desserts, or dipped in chamoy. Pulque de guava is a popular alcoholic beverage in these regions.
In many countries, guava is eaten raw cut into quarters or eaten like an apple, whereas in other countries it is eaten with a pinch of salt and pepper, cayenne powder or a mix of spices. It is known as the winter national fruit of Pakistan. In the Philippines, ripe guava is used in cooking sinigang. Guava is a popular snack in Taiwan, sold on many street corners and night markets during hot weather, accompanied by packets of dried plum powder mixed with sugar and salt for dipping. In east Asia, guava is eaten with sweet and sour dried plum powder mixtures. Guava juice is popular in many countries; the fruit is often included in fruit salads. Because of its high level of pectin, guavas are extensively used to make candies, jellies and marmalades, as a marmalade jam served on toast. Red guav
The Aztec religion is the Mesoamerican religion of the Aztecs. Like other Mesoamerican religions, it had elements of human sacrifice in connection with a large number of religious festivals which were held according to patterns of the Aztec calendar. Polytheistic in its theology, the religion recognized a large and increasing pantheon of gods and goddesses. Aztec cosmology divides the world into thirteen heavens and nine earthly layers or netherworlds, each level associated with a specific set of deities and astronomical objects; the most important celestial entities in Aztec religion were the Sun, the Moon, the planet Venus —all of these bearing different symbolic and religious meanings as well as associations with certain deities and geographical places—whose worship was rooted in a significant reverence for the Sun and Moon. One name for the Aztecs is "Warriors of the Sun." Many leading deities of the Aztec pantheon were worshipped by previous Mesoamerican civilizations, gods such as Tlaloc and Tezcatlipoca, who were venerated by different names in most cultures throughout the history of Mesoamerica.
For the Aztecs important deities were the rain god Tlaloc, the god Huitzilopochtli—patron of the Mexica tribe—as well as Quetzalcoatl the feathered serpent, wind god, culture hero, god of civilization and order, elusive Tezcatlipoca, the shrewd god of destiny and fortune, connected with war and sorcery. Each of these gods had their own shrine, side-by-side at the top of the largest pyramid in the Aztec capital Mexico-Tenochtitlan—Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli were both worshipped here at this dual temple, while a third monument in the plaza before the Templo Mayor was devoted to the wind god Ehecatl; the aztec priests had to perform many duties like fasting and performing sacrifices The concept of Teotl is central to the Aztecs. The term is translated as "god", but may have held more abstract aspects of divinity or supernatural energy akin to the Polynesian concept of Mana; the nature of Teotl is a key element in the understanding of the fall of the Aztec empire, because it seems that the Aztec ruler Moctezuma II and the Aztecs in general referred to Cortés and the conquistadors as "Teotl"—it has been believed that this means that they believed them to be gods, but a better understanding of "Teotl" might suggest that they were seen as "mysterious" or "inexplicable".
The many gods of the Aztecs can be grouped into complexes related to different themes. The Aztecs would adopt gods from different cultures and allow them to be worshiped as part of their pantheon – the fertility god, Xipe Totec, for example, was a god of the Yopi but became an integrated part of the Aztec belief system. Other deities, for example Tezcatlipoca and Quetzalcoatl, had roots in earlier civilizations of Mesoamerica and were worshiped by many cultures and by many names; some gods embodied aspects of nature. A large group of gods were related to pulque, excess and games. Other gods were associated with specific trades. Many gods had multiple aspects with different names, where each name highlighted a specific function or trait of the god. Two distinct gods were conflated into one, quite deities transformed into one another within a single story. Aztec images sometimes combined attributes of several divinities. Aztec scholar H. B. Nicholson classed the gods into three groups according to their conceptual meaning in general Mesoamerican religion.
The first group he called the "Celestial creativity – Divine Paternalism group", the second, the Earth-mother gods, the pulque gods and Xipe Totec. The third group, the War-Sacrifice-Sanguinary Nourishment group contained such gods as Ome Tochtli, Huitzilopochtli and Mixcoatl. Instead of Nicholson's subtle classification in the following a more impressionist classification is presented. Cultural Gods Tezcatlipoca – means "Smoking Mirror", a panmesoamerican shaman god, omnipotent universal power Quetzalcoatl – means "Feathered Serpent", a panmesoamerican god of life, the wind and the morning star Tlaloc – a panmesoamerican god of rainstorm and thunder or any storm Mixcoatl – means "Cloud Serpent", the tribal god of many of the Nahua people such as the Tlaxcalteca, god of war and hunting Huitzilopochtli – means "Left-handed Hummingbird", the tribal god of the Mexica of Tenochtitlan, the patron god aka the sunNature gods Metztli – the Moon Tlaltecuhtli – means "Earth Lord", goddess of the Earth Chalchiuhtlicue – means "Jade Her Skirt", goddess of springs Centzon Huitznahua – means "The 400 Southerners", gods of the stars Ehecatl - the Wind conflated with Quetzalcoatl and called "Quetzalcoatl-Ehecatl" Gods of creation Ometecutli and Omecihuatl on Heavens or Tonacatecutli and Tonacacihuatl on Earth – the couple creator gods Huehueteotl/Xiuhtecutli – means "Old God" and "Turquoise Lord", god of origin, time and old age Coatlicue/Toci/Teteo Innan/Tonantzin – progenitor goddessesGods of pulque and excess Tlazolteotl – goddess of filth and guilt and of cleansing Tepoztecatl – god of pulque worshipped at Tepoztlan Xochiquetzal – goddess of pleasure and indulgence, sex Mayahuel – goddess of pulque and maguey The Auiateteo: Macuiltochtli Macuilxochitl Macuilcuetzpalin Macuilcozcacuauhtli Macuilmalinalli Centzon Totochtin – "the 400 Rabbits", god of intoxication Ometochtli – means "Two Ra
Spondias purpurea is a species in flowering plant in the cashew family, native to tropical regions of the Americas and can be found from Mexico to Brasil. It is very common in most of the Caribbean Islands, it is most known as jocote, which derives from the Nahuatl word xocotl, meaning any kind of sour or acidic fruit. It is a popular fruit throughout Central America in Nicaragua and in Costa Rica. However, this fruit can be sweet when it ripens long enough. Other common names include red mombin, purple mombin, hog plum, ciruela huesito, ciriguela, cirigüela, cirguela and siniguelas. Jocote trees have been used by the people of Central America for thousands of years, for both food and medicinal uses; the trees are used to create living fences and to help staunch soil erosion. A sap or gum from the tree is used as a glue and the same material is combined with sapote or pineapple to make a treatment for jaundice. Jocote fruits are native to the area that stretches from southern Mexico to northern Peru and parts of north-coastal Brazil.
They are most in Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador and Panama. Though, they can be found growing in the Bahamas as well. Spanish explorers brought Jocote fruit to the Philippines; some Jocotes have been spotted growing in Florida, though they are not cultivated and are planted as a curiosity. Researchers believe the genetic variations of the Jocote fruit have been saved for future generations due to people cultivating the plant, separating it from its wild habitat. Due to a reduction in the acreage of the tropical dry forests in Central America, Jocotes may have become endangered if it weren't for the fruit's popularity with locals and success in cultivation. Jocotes can be found in specialty stores catering to products. Since 2011, Jocote has been cultivated in Chiapas, providing much needed work for producers in the area, a good tree for planting in areas affected by soil erosion. Jocote fruit is known as Purple Mombin, Jamaica Plum, Ciruela, or Hog Plum. There are many different varieties of up to 50 recorded in Nicaragua.
There is a high variability in their color and appearance. Jocotes are related to cashew apples, from which we get cashew nuts. S. purpurea fruit grow on deciduous trees in warm tropical climates. They begin to develop following tiny red flowers. S. purpurea fruit grows along knobby branches in clusters or alone. They are about 2 and a half to 5 centimeters in diameter and are elongated; some are oddly shaped. Young S. purpurea fruit are yellowish-green and ripen to a purple or red color. The thin skin is edible; the pulp is yellow when sweet. In the center of the fruit is a large pit, or stone, inedible; the flavor of a S. purpurea fruit is said to be similar to a plum, sweet with a bit of an acidic aftertaste. S. purpurea fruit is available in the winter months. S. purpurea fruit are rich in carbohydrates. They are a source of calcium, iron and a small amount of fiber, they contain carotene, B-complex vitamins, several important amino acids. S. purpurea are high in antioxidants. Allergenic Urushiol are present in the sap of the tree and in small concentrations of the fruit peel and can trigger contact dermatitis in sensitized individuals.
This reaction is more to occur in people who have been exposed to other plants from the Anacardiaceae family, such as poison oak and poison ivy, which are widespread in the United States. In Florida growth is relegated to near-tropical areas of the state, the tree is killed or harmed by cold winter temperatures from Palm Beach County northward; the fruit are most enjoyed as-is, raw and ripe. Ripe fruits will be soft to the touch and are sweet, they are eaten much like a plum or mango, with the pulp eaten and the stone discarded. The pulp can be used to make beverages and mixed with water and a sweetener. Whole fruits are boiled in water with sugar and sometimes other fruits to make a syrup or “honey”; this is eaten with ice cream or alone as a dessert. The fruits are cooked whole to make the seeds strained from the liquid. Boiling and drying S. purpurea fruits will preserve them for several months. Unripe fruits can be eaten, though they are somewhat bitter, they are made into a tart sauce or pickled in vinegar or lime juice and eaten with chile peppers and salt.
The ripe fruit is sold in the streets in most Central American countries in plastic bags. In Costa Rica it is customary to eat the ripe fruit with salt. A typical jocote dish in Salvadoran cuisine consists of a syrup made of panela (a molasses made from artisan sugar blocks made by boiling cane juice from a molienda, to evaporate water until it achieves thick molasses consistency poured into wood molds and let it cool down. Once solidified are wrapped in dry corn husk leaves called "tuzas" and sold in the markets; this can be found only from around Semana Santa to the end of August. In Panama and Coastal Ecuador the tree is used throughout the countryside as a living fence and can be propagated by planting trunks. Mill
Crataegus called hawthorn, thornapple, May-tree, whitethorn, or hawberry, is a genus of several hundred species of shrubs and trees in the family Rosaceae, native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere in Europe and North America. The name "hawthorn" was applied to the species native to northern Europe the common hawthorn C. monogyna, the unmodified name is so used in Britain and Ireland. The name is now applied to the entire genus and to the related Asian genus Rhaphiolepis; the generic epithet, Crataegus, is derived from the Greek kratos "strength" because of the great strength of the wood and akis "sharp", referring to the thorns of some species. The name haw an Old English term for hedge applies to the fruit. Crataegus species are shrubs or small trees growing to 5–15 m tall, with small pome fruit and thorny branches; the most common type of bark is smooth grey in young individuals, developing shallow longitudinal fissures with narrow ridges in older trees. The thorns are small sharp-tipped branches that arise either from other branches or from the trunk, are 1–3 cm long.
The leaves grow spirally arranged on long shoots, in clusters on spur shoots on the branches or twigs. The leaves of most species are somewhat variable in shape; the fruit, sometimes known as a "haw", is berry-like but structurally a pome containing from one to five pyrenes that resemble the "stones" of plums, etc. which are drupaceous fruit in the same subfamily. Hawthorns provide food and shelter for many species of birds and mammals, the flowers are important for many nectar-feeding insects. Hawthorns are used as food plants by the larvae of a large number of Lepidoptera species, such as the small eggar moth, E. lanestris. Haws are important for wildlife in winter thrushes and waxwings; the "haws" or fruits of the common hawthorn, C. monogyna, are edible, but the flavor has been compared to over-ripe apples. In the United Kingdom, they are sometimes used to make a homemade wine; the leaves are edible, if picked in spring when still young, are tender enough to be used in salads. The young leaves and flower buds, which are edible, are known as "bread and cheese" in rural England.
In the southern United States, fruits of three native species are collectively known as mayhaws and are made into jellies which are considered a delicacy. The Kutenai people of northwestern North America used black hawthorn fruit for food. On Manitoulin Island, some red-fruited species are called hawberries. During the pioneer days, white settlers ate these fruits during the winter as the only remaining food supply. People born on the island are now called "haweaters"; the fruits of Crataegus mexicana are known in Mexico as tejocotes and are eaten raw, cooked, or in jam during the winter. They are stuffed in the piñatas broken during the traditional pre-Christmas celebration known as Las Posadas, they are cooked with other fruits to prepare a Christmas punch. The mixture of tejocote paste and chili powder produces a popular Mexican candy called rielitos, manufactured by several brands; the fruits of the species Crataegus pinnatifida are tart, bright red, resemble small crabapple fruits. They are used to make many kinds of Chinese snacks, including haw tanghulu.
The fruits, which are called 山楂 shān zhā in Chinese, are used to produce jams, juices, alcoholic beverages, other drinks. In South Korea, a liquor called. In Iran, the fruits of Crataegus are known as zâlzâlak and eaten raw as a snack, or made into a jam known by the same name. A 2008 Cochrane Collaboration meta-analysis of previous studies concluded that evidence exists of "a significant benefit in symptom control and physiologic outcomes" for an extract of hawthorn used as an adjuvant in treating chronic heart failure. A 2010 review concluded that "Crataegus preparations hold significant potential as a useful remedy in the treatment of cardiovascular disease"; the review indicated the need for further study of the best dosages and concluded that although "many different theoretical interactions between Crataegus and orthodox medications have been postulated... none have been substantiated. Phytochemicals found in hawthorn include tannins, oligomeric proanthocyanidins, phenolic acids. Several species of hawthorn have been used in traditional medicine.
The products used are derived from C. monogyna, C. laevigata, or related Crataegus species, "collectively known as hawthorn", not distinguishing between these species. The dried fruits of Crataegus pinnatifida are used in traditional Chinese medicine as a digestive aid. A related species, Crataegus cuneata is used in a similar manner. Other species are used in herbal medicine where the plant is believed to strengthen cardiovascular function; the Kutenai people of northwestern North America used black hawthorn fruit for food, red hawthorn fruit in traditional medicine. Overdose can cause cardiac arrhythmia and
Nahuatl, known as Aztec, is a language or group of languages of the Uto-Aztecan language family. Varieties of Nahuatl are spoken by about 1.7 million Nahua peoples, most of whom live in central Mexico. Nahuatl has been spoken in central Mexico since at least the seventh century CE, it was the language of the Aztecs, who dominated what is now central Mexico during the Late Postclassic period of Mesoamerican history. During the centuries preceding the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, the Aztecs had expanded to incorporate a large part of central Mexico, their influence caused the variety of Nahuatl spoken by the residents of Tenochtitlan to become a prestige language in Mesoamerica. At the conquest, with the introduction of the Latin alphabet, Nahuatl became a literary language, many chronicles, works of poetry, administrative documents and codices were written in it during the 16th and 17th centuries; this early literary language based on the Tenochtitlan variety has been labeled Classical Nahuatl, is among the most studied and best-documented languages of the Americas.
Today, Nahuan languages are spoken in scattered communities in rural areas throughout central Mexico and along the coastline. There are considerable differences among varieties, some are not mutually intelligible. Huasteca Nahuatl, with over one million speakers, is the most-spoken variety. All varieties have been subject to varying degrees of influence from Spanish. No modern Nahuan languages are identical to Classical Nahuatl, but those spoken in and around the Valley of Mexico are more related to it than those on the periphery. Under Mexico's General Law of Linguistic Rights of the Indigenous Peoples promulgated in 2003, Nahuatl and the other 63 indigenous languages of Mexico are recognized as lenguas nacionales in the regions where they are spoken, enjoying the same status as Spanish within their regions. Nahuan languages exhibit a complex morphology characterized by polysynthesis and agglutination. Through a long period of coexistence with the other indigenous Mesoamerican languages, they have absorbed many influences, coming to form part of the Mesoamerican language area.
Many words from Nahuatl have been borrowed into Spanish and, from there, were diffused into hundreds of other languages. Most of these loanwords denote things indigenous to central Mexico which the Spanish heard mentioned for the first time by their Nahuatl names. English words of Nahuatl origin include "avocado", "chayote", "chili", "chocolate", "atlatl", "coyote", "peyote", "axolotl" and "tomato"; as a language label, the term "Nahuatl" encompasses a group of related languages or divergent dialects within the Nahuan branch of the Uto-Aztecan language family. The Mexican Instituto Nacional de Lenguas Indígenas recognizes 30 individual varieties within the "language group" labeled Nahuatl; the Ethnologue recognizes 28 varieties with separate ISO codes. Sometimes the label is used to include the Pipil language of El Salvador. Regardless of whether "Nahuatl" is considered to label a dialect continuum or a group of separate languages, the varieties form a single branch within the Uto-Aztecan family, descended from a single Proto-Nahuan language.
Within Mexico, the question of whether to consider individual varieties to be languages or dialects of a single language is political. This article focuses on describing the general history of the group and on giving an overview of the diversity it encompasses. For details on individual varieties or subgroups, see the individual articles. In the past, the branch of Uto-Aztecan to which Nahuatl belongs has been called "Aztecan". From the 1990s onward, the alternative designation "Nahuan" has been used as a replacement in Spanish-language publications; the Nahuan branch of Uto-Aztecan is accepted as having two divisions: "General Aztec" and Pochutec. General Aztec encompasses the Pipil languages. Pochutec is a scantily attested language, which became extinct in the 20th century, which Campbell and Langacker classify as being outside of general Aztec. Other researchers have argued that Pochutec should be considered a divergent variant of the western periphery."Nahuatl" denotes at least Classical Nahuatl together with related modern languages spoken in Mexico.
The inclusion of Pipil into the group is debated. Lyle Campbell classified Pipil as separate from the Nahuatl branch within general Aztecan, whereas dialectologists like Una Canger, Karen Dakin, Yolanda Lastra and Terrence Kaufman have preferred to include Pipil within the General Aztecan branch, citing close historical ties with the eastern peripheral dialects of General Aztec. Current subclassification of Nahuatl rests on research by Canger and Lastra de Suárez. Canger introduced the scheme of a Central grouping and two Peripheral groups, Lastra confirmed this notion, differing in some details. Canger & Dakin demonstrated a basic split between Eastern and Western branches of Nahuan, considered to reflect the oldest division of the proto-Nahuan speech community. Canger considered the central dialect area to be an innovative subarea within the Western branch, but in 2011, she suggested that it arose as an urban koiné language with features from both Western and Eastern dialect areas. Canger tentatively included dialects of La Huasteca in the Central group, while Lastra de Suárez places them in the Eastern Periphery, followed by Kaufman.
The terminology used to describe varieties of spoken Nahuatl is inconsistently applied. Many terms are used with multiple denotations, or a single dialect grou
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the Pre-Columbian peoples of North and South America and their descendants. Although some indigenous peoples of the Americas were traditionally hunter-gatherers—and many in the Amazon basin, still are—many groups practiced aquaculture and agriculture; the impact of their agricultural endowment to the world is a testament to their time and work in reshaping and cultivating the flora indigenous to the Americas. Although some societies depended on agriculture, others practiced a mix of farming and gathering. In some regions the indigenous peoples created monumental architecture, large-scale organized cities, city-states, states and empires. Among these are the Aztec and Maya states that until the 16th century were among the most politically and advanced nations in the world, they had a vast knowledge of engineering, mathematics, writing, medicine and irrigation, mining and goldsmithing. Many parts of the Americas are still populated by indigenous peoples.
At least a thousand different indigenous languages are spoken in the Americas. Some, such as the Quechuan languages, Guaraní, Mayan languages and Nahuatl, count their speakers in millions. Many maintain aspects of indigenous cultural practices to varying degrees, including religion, social organization and subsistence practices. Like most cultures, over time, cultures specific to many indigenous peoples have evolved to incorporate traditional aspects but cater to modern needs; some indigenous peoples still live in relative isolation from Western culture and a few are still counted as uncontacted peoples. Indigenous peoples of the United States are known as Native Americans or American Indians and Alaska Natives. Application of the term "Indian" originated with Christopher Columbus, who, in his search for India, thought that he had arrived in the East Indies; those islands came to be known as the "West Indies", a name still used. This led to the blanket term "Indies" and "Indians" for the indigenous inhabitants, which implied some kind of racial or cultural unity among the indigenous peoples of the Americas.
This unifying concept, codified in law and politics, was not accepted by the myriad groups of indigenous peoples themselves, but has since been embraced or tolerated, by many over the last two centuries. Though the term "Indian" does not include the culturally and linguistically distinct indigenous peoples of the Arctic regions of the Americas—such as the Aleuts, Inuit or Yupik peoples, who entered the continent as a second more recent wave of migration several thousand years before and have much more recent genetic and cultural commonalities with the aboriginal peoples of the Asiatic Arctic Russian Far East—these groups are nonetheless considered "indigenous peoples of the Americas". Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, which includes not only First Nations and Arctic Inuit, but the minority population of First Nations-European mixed race Métis people who identify culturally and ethnically with indigenous peoplehood; this is contrasted, for instance, to the American Indian-European mixed race mestizos of Hispanic America who, with their larger population, identify as a new ethnic group distinct from both Europeans and Indigenous Americans, but still considering themselves a subset of the European-derived Hispanic or Brazilian peoplehood in culture and ethnicity.
The term Amerindian and its cognates find preferred use in scientific contexts and in Quebec, the Guianas and the English-speaking Caribbean. Indígenas or pueblos indígenas is a common term in Spanish-speaking countries and pueblos nativos or nativos may be heard, while aborigen is used in Argentina and pueblos originarios is common in Chile. In Brazil, indígenas or povos indígenas are common if formal-sounding designations, while índio is still the more often-heard term and aborígene and nativo being used in Amerindian-specific contexts; the Spanish and Portuguese equivalents to Indian could be used to mean any hunter-gatherer or full-blooded Indigenous person to continents other than Europe or Africa—for example, indios filipinos. The specifics of Paleo-Indian migration to and throughout the Americas, including the exact dates and routes traveled, are the subject of ongoing research and discussion. According to archaeological and genetic evidence and South America were the last continents in the world to gain human habitation.
During the Wisconsin glaciation, 50–17,000 years ago, falling sea levels allowed people to move across the land bridge of Beringia that joined Siberia to northwest North America. Alaska was a glacial refugium; the Laurentide Ice Sheet covered most of North America, blocking nomadic inhabitants and confining them to Alaska for thousands of years. Indigenous genetic studies suggest that the first inhabitants of the Americas share a single ancestral population, one that developed in isolation, conjectured to be Beringia; the isolat
Mesoamerica is a historical region and cultural area in North America. It extends from central Mexico through Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and northern Costa Rica, within this region pre-Columbian societies flourished before the Spanish colonization of the Americas. In the 16th century, European diseases like smallpox and measles caused the deaths of upwards of 90% of the indigenous people, it is one of five areas in the world where ancient civilization arose independently, the second in the Americas along with Norte Chico in present-day Peru, in the northern coastal region. As a cultural area, Mesoamerica is defined by a mosaic of cultural traits developed and shared by its indigenous cultures. Beginning as early as 7000 BCE, the domestication of cacao, beans, avocado, vanilla and chili, as well as the turkey and dog, caused a transition from paleo-Indian hunter-gatherer tribal grouping to the organization of sedentary agricultural villages. In the subsequent Formative period and cultural traits such as a complex mythological and religious tradition, a vigesimal numeric system, a complex calendric system, a tradition of ball playing, a distinct architectural style, were diffused through the area.
In this period, villages began to become stratified and develop into chiefdoms with the development of large ceremonial centers, interconnected by a network of trade routes for the exchange of luxury goods, such as obsidian, cacao, Spondylus shells and ceramics. While Mesoamerican civilization did know of the wheel and basic metallurgy, neither of these technologies became culturally important. Among the earliest complex civilizations was the Olmec culture, which inhabited the Gulf Coast of Mexico and extended inland and southwards across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Frequent contact and cultural interchange between the early Olmec and other cultures in Chiapas and Oaxaca laid the basis for the Mesoamerican cultural area. All this was facilitated by considerable regional communications in ancient Mesoamerica along the Pacific coast; this formative period saw the spread of distinct religious and symbolic traditions, as well as artistic and architectural complexes. In the subsequent Preclassic period, complex urban polities began to develop among the Maya, with the rise of centers such as El Mirador and Tikal, the Zapotec at Monte Albán.
During this period, the first true Mesoamerican writing systems were developed in the Epi-Olmec and the Zapotec cultures, the Mesoamerican writing tradition reached its height in the Classic Maya hieroglyphic script. Mesoamerica is one of only three regions of the world where writing is known to have independently developed. In Central Mexico, the height of the Classic period saw the ascendancy of the city of Teotihuacan, which formed a military and commercial empire whose political influence stretched south into the Maya area and northward. Upon the collapse of Teotihuacán around 600 AD, competition between several important political centers in central Mexico, such as Xochicalco and Cholula, ensued. At this time during the Epi-Classic period, the Nahua peoples began moving south into Mesoamerica from the North, became politically and culturally dominant in central Mexico, as they displaced speakers of Oto-Manguean languages. During the early post-Classic period, Central Mexico was dominated by the Toltec culture, Oaxaca by the Mixtec, the lowland Maya area had important centers at Chichén Itzá and Mayapán.
Towards the end of the post-Classic period, the Aztecs of Central Mexico built a tributary empire covering most of central Mesoamerica. The distinct Mesoamerican cultural tradition ended with the Spanish conquest in the 16th century. Over the next centuries, Mesoamerican indigenous cultures were subjected to Spanish colonial rule. Aspects of the Mesoamerican cultural heritage still survive among the indigenous peoples who inhabit Mesoamerica, many of whom continue to speak their ancestral languages, maintain many practices harking back to their Mesoamerican roots; the term Mesoamerica means "middle America" in Greek. Middle America refers to a larger area in the Americas, but it has previously been used more narrowly to refer to Mesoamerica. An example is the title of the 16 volumes of The Handbook of Middle American Indians. "Mesoamerica" is broadly defined as the area, home to the Mesoamerican civilization, which comprises a group of peoples with close cultural and historical ties. The exact geographic extent of Mesoamerica has varied through time, as the civilization extended North and South from its heartland in southern Mexico.
The term was first used by the German ethnologist Paul Kirchhoff, who noted that similarities existed among the various pre-Columbian cultures within the region that included southern Mexico, Belize, El Salvador, western Honduras, the Pacific lowlands of Nicaragua and northwestern Costa Rica. In the tradition of cultural history, the prevalent archaeological theory of the early to middle 20th century, Kirchhoff defined this zone as a cultural area based on a suite of interrelated cultural similarities brought about by millennia of inter- and intra-regional interaction. Mesoamerica is recognized as a near-prototypical cultural area, the term is now integrated in the standard terminology of pre-Columbian anthropological studies. Conversely, the sister terms Aridoamerica and Oasisamerica, which refer to northern Mexico and the western United States have not entered into widespread usage; some of the significant cultural traits defining the Mesoamerican cultural tradition are: sedentism based on maize agricultu