Latin America underwent a much longer period as a colony than other parts of the world. Almost all the countries in Latin America were colonies for about 300 years. Like North America and unlike Asia and almost all of Africa, the colonization of Latin America was accompanied by permanent emigration from Europe. In the early years, these settlers came from Spain and Portugal. They brought with them the political, economic, and cultural institutions of their homeland. In part, the paths of economic development differed between Latin America and North America because of differences in their inherited institutions. Hence, in studying development in Latin America, we begin with a discussion of the Iberian Peninsula, especially Spain, around the time of Christopher Columbus.