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History of North America

Many natives of North America, as the Europeans found them, were semi-nomadic tribes of hunter-gatherers; others were sedentary and agricultural civilizations. Many formed new tribes or confederations in response to European colonization. Well-known groups included the Aztec, Maya, Huron, Mohawk, Apache, Cherokee, Sioux, Mohegan, Iroquois, and Inuit.

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.

Christopher Columbus
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. Lawrence River.

English Settlers
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.

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