Extremadura is a tough country that bred tough people, if we are to believe the names of places like Valle de Matamoros (Valley of the Moorslayers), and one can easily understand the attraction that the New World and the promise of the lush Indies must have held for its inhabitants.

Francisco Pizarro, the conqueror of Peru, and Francisco de Orellano, the explorer of the Amazon, both came from Trujillo, while the ruthless Hernán Cortés, who led the destruction of the Aztec empire, hailed from Medellín in Badajoz. Jerez de los Caballeros also produced its crop of conquistadores. The two most celebrated are Vasco Núñez de Balboa, discoverer of the Pacific, and Hernando de Soto (also known as the Conqueror of Florida), who in exploring the Mississippi became one of the first Europeans to set foot in North America.

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