The most significant physical geographical factor that contributed to the development of the ancient South American society of the Incas was the Andes Mountains. The Inca Empire had villages and cities throughout the Andes Mountains. Some of these settlements were as low as sea level and their capital, Cusco, was at an altitude of 11,200 feet. The Andes are considered some of the longest and highest mountain ranges. In fact it’s tallest peak, Mount Aconcaqua, in Argentina, tops out at 22,841 feet (Zimmermann, 2013). Despite the fact that people were traversing mountains the people flourished creating trails, aqueducts and agricultural practices that still exist today.
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Early Spanish conquistadors were introduced to potatoes when they arrived in Peru in 1532. They noted the importance of the potato to the Incan Empire (Chapman, n.d.). Incas shared how to preserve potato by dehydrating it and mashing it. Once done, this substance could be stored for 10 years and provided a wonderful backup in case of crop failures.
The conquistadors eventually used potatoes as rations on their ships and took it back to Spain (Chapman, n.d.). From there, the potato spread to other countries. Unfortunately, the potato was “regarded with suspicion, distaste and fear.” (Chapman, n.d.) Only animals were fed the potatoes at first but as time went on, the aristocracy of Europe began to encourage the lower classes to begin cultivating potatoes. Potatoes, however, did not become a staple until roughly 1795 and the food shortages that came during the time of the Revolutionary Wars in England. (Chapman, n.d.)
In the 1620s the potato was introduced to the colony of Virginia courtesy of the British governor of the Bahamas. The potato didn’t truly spread until it received a seal of approval from Thomas Jefferson after serving them to guests at the White House (Chapman, n.d.). The potato continued it’s spread across the world and eventually became a staple part of meals (and snacks) the world over.
Two of the most significant physical geographic or environmental factors that contributed to the development and expansion of the United States are the California Gold Rush and the Irish Potato Famine. According to an article by Martin Kelly of American History.com, prior to gold being officially discovered in 1848 in northern California, the population of the then territory of California was approximately 25,000 (Kelly, n.d.). A few years later California became the 31st state to join the United States. At that time, in 1850, a census was taken and the population had skyrocketed to 223,856 (Kelly, n.d.). Kelly also states that the population of San Francisco rose over 50,000 in the years between 1848 and 1849.
Before the gold rush most Americans never thought of going to California. It was little more than a wilderness full of beasts and Indians and tales abounded of lawlessness. Only the truly brave dared to travel to California. The discovery of gold, however, changed all of this. John Sutter, a sawmill owner, found a large nugget in his mill, and overnight the California gold rush began. Newspapers reported the discover and once then President James Polk confirmed the rumors during his annual state of the union address in December 1848, the rush was officially on!
Not only did prospectors from all over the United States make the long journey to California, but voyage by sea had also gotten a lot more accessible and advanced to allow people from all over the world to find their own wealth in the foothills of California. It is estimated that one-fourth of the prospectors came from other...