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LET'S EXPLORE American history

When did Europeans start to settle in North America?

European settlers fight Native Americans in 1630sEuropean settlers fight Native Americans in 1630sSoon after Columbus first landed in the Americas in 1492, Europeans set off to explore what they called the “New World”. The Italian Amerigo Vespucci sailed down the eastern coast of South America. By 1502 he realised that the lands Columbus had discovered were part of a new continent. We get the name "America" from his first name. Spain conquered vast parts of Central and South America and claimed them for its empire: "New Spain". Meanwhile, other European countries, England, France and the Netherlands, claimed lands in eastern North America.

French explorers canoeing inlandFrench explorers canoeing inland

French colonies

During the first half of the 16th century, French explorers arrived on the northeast coast of North America. Some ventured up the St Lawrence River, claiming all the lands they discovered for France. By the 1600s people had begun to settle in the lands known as “New France” (now southeastern Canada). The colonists lived by trading furs with Native Americans.

The city of St Augustine, Florida, was founded by Spanish settlers in 1565. It is the oldest continuously inhabited European city in the United States.

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