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While the abundance of natural resources invited man to remain, geographic features compelled him, and thus arose Indian communities that excelled in culture Indians in every other part of the continent.

South of Panama, nature was too exuberant, and the territory too small to favour similar progress; hence the Indians, while still quite proficient in certain arts, could not compare with their northern neighbors.

On the western slope of the Andes, in Columbia, the population was somewhat more dense and the houses, though still of wood and canes, were larger, and more substantially reared.

Sedentary tribes of a lesser degree of culture also dwelt in northern Argentine, limited in numbers, and scattered in and between savage groups.

The great northern and western plains were not settled, although there are traces of pre-Columbian permanent abodes, or at least of some settlements made during a slow shifting along the streams; tribes preying on the buffalo roamed with that quadruped over the steppes.

The northwest, on the Pacific, was more densely inhabited by tribes, who subsisted by fishing (salmon), limited agriculture, and hunting.

The same conditions may be said to have obtained in Arizona.

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The distribution of the American population at the time of Columbus is, of course, not known from personal observation, but it may be approximately reconstructed from information gathered after America began to be visited by Europeans.

While there are within the United States tribes that in the fifteenth century displayed a higher degree of culture than their surroundings (the Natchez, for instance, and in the development of ideas of government and extension of sway, the Iroquois ) the culture of the Indian seems to have reached its highest degree in Central Mexico and Yucatán, Guatemala and Honduras, and, we may add, Nicaragua.

It is as if the tribal wanderings from north to south, which sometimes took other directions, had been arrested by the narrowing of the continent at the Isthmus of Panama.

The Eskimo held most of the Arctic belt, whereas the so-called Indians swayed the rest of the continent to its southernmost extremity.

The population was not nearly so numerous as had long been thought, even where it was most dense, but there are no materials even for an approximate estimate.Central America forms an isthmus running from northwest to southeast and narrowing to a strip of thirty miles in width at Panama ; this isthmus extends from 15° to 8° north latitude, where it connects with the western coast of South America.