Shortly after the Old World made contact with the New, a series of epidemics decimated the indigenous populations of the Americas. Millions died; in some areas the mortality reached 90%. As a result, the Native American civilizations that the European settlers encountered were dramatically weaker than they had been in pre-Columbian times, and correspondingly less able to respond to the threat that the Europeans presented. Native Americans were completely overrun and marginalized in a way that didn’t happen in other parts of the world where European settlers encroached on indigenous peoples – South Africa, for example, or India.
Imagine a world where these epidemics never happened. How would Europe’s encounter with the Americas have played out differently? What would North and South America look like now?