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Designed to meet the curriculum needs for students from grades 7 to 12, this five-volume encyclopedia explores world history from approximately 5000 C.E. to the present. Organized alphabetically within geographical volumes on Africa, Europe, the Americas, the Middle East and Southwest Asia, and Asia and the Pacific, entries cover the social, political, scientific and technological, economic, and cultural events and developments that shaped the modern world.Each volume includes articles on history, government, and warfare; the development of ideas and the growth of art and architecture; religion and philosophy; music; science and technology; and daily life in the civilizations covered. Boxed features include "Turning Point," "Great Lives," "Into the Twenty-First Century," and "Modern Weapons". Maps, timelines, and illustrations illuminate the text, and a glossary, a selected bibliography, and an index in each volume round out the set.
The countries that occupy the continents of North America and South America have unique histories. Europeans colonized areas that had been occupied for thousands of years by diverse societies and cultures, which, in turn, gave way to an array of countries with their own specific historical development.
Those who followed Columbus were called conquistadors, or conquerors. In 1521, Hernán Cortés and his men subjugated the Aztecs of present-day Mexico, who were already weakened by civil war. Francisco Pizarro soon oversaw the dismantling of the Incan Empire in South America. Other parts of North America not claimed by Spain were explored by the French and English during this early period. Sailing for France, Giovanni da Verrazzano traveled the eastern seaboard, from Florida to Newfoundland, and Jacques Cartier explored the Gulf of St. Lawrence.