Pre-Columbian South America
By the first millennium CE, South America’s vast rainforests,
mountains, plains and coasts were the home of tens of millions of
people. Some groups formed permanent settlements. Among those groups
were the Chibchas (or "Muiscas" or "Muyscas") and the Tairona. The
Chibchas of Colombia, the Quechuas of Peru and the Aymaras of
Bolivia were the 3 most important sedentary Indian groups in South
America. In the last two thousand years there may have been contact
with Polynesians across the South Pacific Ocean, as shown by the
spread of the sweet potato through some areas of the Pacific, but
there is no genetic legacy of human contact.
This list of pre-Columbian civilizations includes those
civilizations and cultures of the Americas which flourished prior to
the European colonization of the Americas.
In particular, these pre-Columbian civilizations can be said to have
established characteristics such as permanent or urban settlements,
agriculture, and complex societal hierarchies.
Many of these civilizations had long ceased to function by the time
of the first permanent European arrivals (c. late 15th - early 16th
centuries), and are known only through archaeological
investigations. Others were contemporary with this period, and are
also known from historical accounts of the time. A few (such as the
Maya) had their own written records which can shed light on their
development and history.
Where they persist, the societies and cultures which gave rise to
these civilizations may now be substantively different in form to
that of the original. However, many of these peoples and their
descendants still uphold various traditions and practices which
relate back to these earlier times, even if combined with those more
South American pre-Columbian cultures