I'm inclined to point you toward google.
No insult meant, but it is just too much history to cover here in this small space.
The Spaniards conquered ALL the Americas, not just the central countries. The area that was 'discovered' included a lot of different tribes of
natives from the very sophisticated (Incas, Aztecs, Mayas) to the very basic groups.
As far as cannibalism - it is unfortunately quite a common view for most uneducated people to believe that the hygiene and living conditions of the
natives of America equaled them to mere savages, when ironically it was they who viewed the white men in that way. It all really points to what you
consider an advanced race to be. If you think it is technological advancement, weaponry and navigation, then it was the Spaniards who were the more
'advanced' race. But this is why I would rather point you to google, because a lot of the tribes of native america were considerably advanced in
other areas and it is quite interesting reading.
After all, it was the Europeans who were raping, killing, maiming and spreading malaria, smallpox, measles and influenza to the natives who died by
the millions as they had never experienced them before and therefore had no immunities to the diseases.
The natives in turn passed on syphilis which they were immune to but the Spanish weren't. Think of it as Montazuma's revenge
. The Spanish then
brought it to Europe.
While you did have some human sacrificing tribes - like the Aztecs, you have to remember that a lot of that was ritualistic and based on supersitions
- you know - a lot like religion
They also workshipped nature and learned to live alongside it, possibly the end result of this was less diseases,
less contamination. I also assume that their bodies were hardier and more toughened and thus not prone to the same sort of sicknesses. Then there was
the overcrowding, awful conditions on the ships, bad nutrition, lifestyle of excesses and the middle ages supersitions of cleanliness. Back in Europe,
the crowded living conditions, particularly in larger cities, meant that diseases spread faster due to the proximity of so many people.
Compare that to the lifestyles of the so called 'savages' who had ample land and none of the problems with crowding.
I read a statistic some time ago about the common European diet in the 1600s and it included enormous amounts of meat, bread and wine - hardly
anything else. Certainly no veggies - which was what the poor ate. Compare that to the diet of the natives, which included hardly any flesh and a lot
of root vegetables, herbs and pulses.
Don't forget a lot of natural plants in South America probably cured or kept at bay most diseases and the people understood herbology and had a good
understand of curative methods - where the Europeans were still using leeches (Plato's humours) and butchers were considered ideal surgeons.
But the question you ask is a good one as most people cannot indentify why they didn't get ill before the Spaniards came.
Inhabitants of the New World were bearers of no new serious infections transferable to the Europeans or Africans. Precise information about disease in
pre-Columbian America has been difficult to obtain. The presence of intestinal worms has been discovered in pre-Columbian burial sites, but even with
these discoveries the array of parasites fall short of the varieties abound in the Old World.
The natives were also what one might consider the 'outdoorsy' type. All in all really, less crowding, better diets, lot of fresh air and exercise
and not messing around with the water, the air and taking care of their bodies. Nothing has really changed much from the conquest to modern day. We
get ill from the same things and pass diseases around due to our present living conditions.
There is this from Wikipedia as well about animals
Europeans brought so many deadly diseases with them because they had many more domesticated animals than the Native Americans. Domestication usually
means close and frequent contact between animals and people, which is an opportunity for animal diseases to mutate and migrate into the human
Why were diseases so