History and culture of Central American nations on stamps – pt. 1

» Email » Print
» Add comment

Lately I’ve been expanding my knowledge about culture and history of Mexico and Central American nations by reading few books about the subject. The reason for this is simply the hunger to know/understand more about the topics, events and characters displayed on stamps of these countries. This write-up is not a history lecture per se, but more of a stamp illustrated list of various historical tidbits I find interesting.

Let’s begin with early steps of civilization… I confess I never really knew (or had blissfully forgotten) that America was the last continent inhabited by man. This happened only about 40,000 years ago in north, and southern tip of Chile was reached as late as only 9,000 years ago.

US 1991.  First Americans crossed over from Asia.

US 1991. First Americans crossed over from Asia.

I think the era most people recall and recognize best from Central American history are the great Indian civilizations, especially the Mayas and the Aztecs. But I never really understood the real size/extend of these cultures – for example the Toltec culture covered an area from Mexico to Nicaragua. That’s a huge achievement considering the conditions and means people had for moving around.

1965 Nicaragua.

1965 Nicaragua.

The arrival of white man and the era of Spanish colonialism are very controversial era in history of Central America. In a way I am not surprised that the postage stamps do not give much tribute to acts of Cortes and his fellow conquistadors. Instead, ‘gentler’ stories from this era appear on quite many stamps. Take for example the Bartolomé de las Casas who is displayed on below Guatemala stamp. He was a former conquistador, who turned into priest and early human rights activist. He even went to extreme lengths of creating the worlds first Utopian community while trying to battle against slavery of Indians:

1962/75 Guatemala. Bartolomé de las Casas - protector of Indians.  Michel 679 C (perf 12½) and 679 D (perf 13½).

1962/75 Guatemala. Bartolomé de las Casas - protector of Indians. Michel 679 C (perf 12½) and 679 D (perf 13½).

I have often wondered why most Central and South American countries have Spanish relations (with the exception of Brazil and few others), until I finally learned about the treaty of Tordesillas. In 1494 the crowns of Portugal and Spain (Castile) agreed to divide all the land on Earth (outside of Europe of course) between the two of them, irrespective of who was already living there. Pope Alexander VI draw an imaginary (pole-to-pole) line at 370 leagues from the Cape Verdes (because no land had yet been officially discovered outside that range). All land west of this line was appointed to Spain leaving eastern parts to Portugal.

1994 Spain. 500th anniversary of Treaty of Tordesillas.

1994 Spain. 500th anniversary of Treaty of Tordesillas.

Of Central American nations, the only exception to this is Belize (former British Honduras). It used to be Spanish property too, but colonial rivalry between Spain and Britain finally led to fact that it became the only country in central America to fall under British regime and laws.

To be continued… As usual, feel free to contribute your thoughts, opinions and comments.

Show that you liked this article

Support the blog - become a premium member for 12.40€!

By joining Stamp Collecting Blog Premium membership programme, You can support this blog and quarantee that articles like this (and 300+ others already available) remain freely accessible to every stamp collector. Additionally, you can download some of the blog contents as downloadable eBooks (pdf) and You can opt out of ads for period of one year. Read more and sign up now!

Subscribe to free newsletter

Click here to subscribe the weekly newsletterSign-up to SCB newsletter and get notified when new articles like the above are published at Stamp Collecting Blog. The email-newsletter is sent to Your inbox one to four times a month, and it contains a summary of new entries and discussions on the blog.

Your email address:

There are 19 responses for this entry, click to read the responses.

Leave a new response

All responses are moderated before publishing. Responses should be respectful of other voices in the discussion and remain on topic. All buy/sell messages will be deleted, as well as questions about stamp values (you can always get yourself a stamp catalog, or get your stamps valued). Stampcollectingblog.com reserves the right to edit or delete comments that violate these policies. If You want to share an picture/photo, simply write the entire URL of the photo in the comments field.

And finally... A small IQ test. Please click the picture that is NOT a postage stamp. Then press the "Submit Comment" button below images.

Stamp imageStamp imageStamp imageStamp image

Latest comments on the blog

View more...

All original content and images of this blog is under copyright protection; any kind of reproduction of full contents without permission of the owner is hereby denied. All Rights Reserved © Keijo Kortelainen, 2009-2014. All photos of stamps in this blog are enlargements or reductions of original stamps from private collection of author of the blog (unless otherwise stated). The designs of stamps and postmarks are copyright of issuing postal authorities and their designers. The comments / discussion on this blog are copyright of their retrospective authors, and represent the opinion of their authors. Catalog numbers (Scott, Michel, SG etc) are the copyrighted property of their publishers. | See our privacy policy