Spain and Portugal divided the New World by drawing a line in the Atlantic Ocean, about 370 league
s west of the Cape Verde Islands, then controlled by Portugal. All lands east of that line (about 46 degrees, 37 minutes West) were claimed by Portugal. All lands west of that line were claimed by Spain.
Spain and Portugal adhere
d to the treaty
without major conflict, and the results linger
throughout the Americas today. Most Latin American nations are Spanish-speaking countries, for instance, but Portuguese is the leading official language
in Brazil. This is because the eastern tip of Brazil penetrates the line agreed to in the Treaty of Tordesillas, so the region
d by Portugal.
The treaty ignore
d any future claims of the British and French, the other European superpowers of the time. The British, French, and Russian empire
s did not claim parts of the Americas for years after the Treaty of Tordesillas.
Most importantly, however, the Treaty of Tordesillas, completely ignored the millions of people already living in establish
ed communities in the Americas. The treaty stipulate
d that any lands with a “Christian
king” would not be colonized. Christianity had not spread to the Americas, and the resulting colonization proved disastrous
for indigenous culture
s such as the Inca, Taino, Aztec, Tupi, and thousands of other bands throughout the Americas.