Before Columbus and the Europeans came to America, people were already living there for a very long time. In North America, the tribes hunted animals and grew crops like corn, beans, hot peppers, and potatoes. But in Central and South America, where it was warmer, there were civilizations with lots of people and great achievements.
One of these civilizations was the Mayan Empire, which was in Central America around 500 BC. The Mayans were really smart. They knew a lot about math and astronomy. They could even tell how many days there were in a year! They built huge pyramids and used special pictures to write things down.
After the Mayan civilization declined, the Aztec civilization rose up in Mexico during the 13th and 14th centuries. They were like the Mayans and also knew math and astronomy. But the Aztecs were conquered by a Spanish soldier named Cortés in 1520, and their civilization came to an end.
In South America, there was another powerful empire called the Inca Empire. They built the incredible city of Machu Picchu. The Inca people worshiped the sun as their god. They had a system of rulers, with a king at the top, followed by nobles, farmers, and then poor people and servants. The empire grew bigger and bigger under the rule of King Pachacuti, who was the king when Machu Picchu was built. The Inca Empire became very grand, with a lot of land and many people, maybe even 6 to 14 million!
But then the empire started to have problems, and different regions started fighting each other. That's when Spanish soldiers led by Francisco Pizarro came and invaded the Inca Empire around 1530. The Inca Empire couldn't fight back, and it fell apart. Many of the things the Inca made were lost or taken away. But we can still see how amazing their empire must have been by looking at Machu Picchu.