Dutch colonization of the Americas

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Dutch trading posts and plantations in the Americas precede the much wider known colonisation activities of the Dutch in Asia. Whereas the first Dutch fort in Asia was built in 1600 (in present-day Indonesia), the first forts and settlements on the Essequibo river in Guyana and on the Amazon date from the 1590s. Actual colonization, with Dutch settling in the new lands, was not as common as with other European nations. Many of the Dutch settlements were lost or abandoned by the end of that century, but the Netherlands managed to retain possession of Suriname until it gained independence in 1975, as well as the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, which remain within the Kingdom of the Netherlands today.

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North America

In 1602, the government of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands chartered the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie), or VOC with the mission of exploring it for a passage to the Indies and claiming any uncharted areas for the United Provinces, which led to several significant expeditions. The two Dutch settlements in the Americas are, New Netherlands and New Amsterdam.

In 1609, the VOC commissioned English explorer Henry Hudson who, in an attempt to find the so-called northwest passage to the Indies, discovered and claimed for the VOC parts of the present-day United States and Canada. In the belief that it was the best route to explore, Hudson entered the Upper New York Bay sailing up the Hudson River which now bears his name. In 1614, Adriaen Block led an expedition to the lower Hudson in the Tyger, and then explored the East River aboard the Onrust, becoming the first known European to navigate the Hellegat enter Long Island Sound. Block Island and its sound were named after him. Upon returning, Block compiled a map, the first to apply the name "New Netherland" to the area between English Virginia and French Canada, where he was later granted exclusive trading rights by the Dutch government.

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