Until the end of the era of Iberian domination, only the Spanish and Portuguese were admitted to their South American colonies. The rigid exclusion of all other foreigners had but few exceptions, though a small number of non-Iberian Europeans settled as a result of illegal or tolerated immigration. Most of the Spaniards came from Castile and the southern regions. Little is known about the principal regions from which the Portuguese came. It is estimated that the total number of licencias (authorizations to emigrate) granted by Spain was about 150,000 for the entire colonial period, which lasted from the 16th to the 19th century; it is possible that the number of illegal immigrants also approached this number. Of these, no more than two-fifths of the emigrants went to South America. Up to one million Portuguese may have migrated to Brazil, drawn primarily by a gold rush in Minas Gerais in the 18th century.
A few African servants accompanying the early Spanish or Portuguese explorers were the first slaves to enter the continent. Larger-scale importation of slaves from Africa developed after the slave trade was established early in the 16th century, though reliable quantitative information is lacking.
Estimates of the number of Africans brought to South America are four million for Brazil and three million for all of Spanish America, of which most went to areas of present-day Venezuela, Colombia, coastal Ecuador and Peru, and northwestern Argentina; a number also went to the large Spanish colonial cities as urban servants. In addition, many Africans were brought to the British and Dutch Guianas (present-day Guyana and Suriname, respectively).
African slaves were considered to be more resistant than American Indians to tropical diseases, especially in plantation areas. Most of the slaves imported into South America came from Portuguese or Spanish trading posts along the west coast of Africa, including areas near present-day Angola. The slave trade ceased in the early 19th century as most of the new republics banned slavery. "South America" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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