In 1492 , Christopher Columbus landed in the islands that are now called the West Indies, in the Caribbean. There, he encountered the Taino people. The Tainos lived in villages and grew corn, yams, and cotton, which they wove into cloth. They were friendly and generous toward the Spanish.
Friendly relations soon evaporated, however. Spanish conquistadors, or conquerors, followed in the wake of Columbus. They settled on the islands of Hispaniola (now the Dominican Republic and Haiti), Cuba, and Puerto Rico. They seized the gold ornaments worn by the Tainos, then made them pan for more gold. At the same time, the newcomers forced the Tainos to convert to Christianity.
Meanwhile, a deadly but invisible invader was at work-disease. Europeans unknowingly carried diseases such as smallpox, measles, and influenza to which Native Americans had no immunity, or resistance. These diseases spread rapidly and wiped out village after village. As a result, the Native American population of the Caribbean islands declined by as much as percent in the s. This cycle of disease and death was repeated in many other places across the Western Hemisphere.
Review the three paragraphs. For each paragraph, write a single sentence identifying the main idea of the paragraph.