To reconstruct population numbers, researchers depend on the first accounts from European eyewitnesses and, in data from after colonial rule was established, tribute funds often known as “encomiendas”. This taxation system was solely established after European epidemics had ravaged the Americas, so it tells us nothing in regards to the measurement of pre-colonial populations. While Europe was in the early days of the Renaissance, there were empires in the Americas sustaining more than 60m individuals. But the first European contact in 1492 brought illnesses to the Americas which devastated the native population and the resultant collapse of farming within the Americas was so vital that it may have even cooled the global local weather.
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