Vikings Reach North America
The first Europeans known for certain to have reached North America
are the Vikings, who called it Vinland. They reached it around
the year 1000. While some settlement activity took place, they
did not leave much of a mark on the continent.
After Christopher Columbus's 1492 voyage, the Spanish were the
first Europeans to arrive to stay. They gained control of most
of the largest islands in the Caribbean and conquered the Aztecs,
gaining control of Mexico and Central America.
While some smaller powers like the Dutch and Swedish had minor
holdings on the continent, the main land and most of the islands
were divided between the Spanish, the French, and the English empires.
John Cabot in Canada
Almost 500 years after Leif Ericson, John Cabot explored the east
coast of what would become Canada in 1497. Giovanni da Verrazzano
explored the East Coast of America from Florida to presumably
Newfoundland in 1524. Jacques Cartier made a series of voyages
on behalf of the French crown in 1534 and penetrated the St.
The first English settlements were at Jamestown and Plymouth Rock,
in what are today Virginia and Massachusetts respectively. The
first French settlements were Port Royal (1604) and Quebec City
(1608) in what is now Nova Scotia and Quebec.