European colonization of the Americas

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The start of the European colonization of the Americas is typically dated to 1492, although there was at least one earlier colonization effort. The first known Europeans to reach the Americas were the Vikings (Norse) during the 11th century, who established several colonies in Greenland and one short-lived settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows (51°N) in the area the Norse called Vinland, present day Newfoundland and to the south. Settlements in Greenland survived for several centuries, during which time the Greenland Norse and the Inuit people experienced mostly hostile contact. By the end of the 15th century, the Norse Greenland settlements had collapsed.[1]

In 1492, a Spanish expedition headed by Christopher Columbus sailed to the Americas and introduced the New World to the Western World of the time; after this, European conquest, exploration, and colonization soon followed and expanded. This first occurred along the Caribbean coasts on the islands of Hispaniola, Puerto Rico and Cuba, and since the early 16th century, extended into the interiors of both North and South America. In 1497, sailing from the north, John Cabot landed on the North American coast, and a year later, Columbus's third voyage reached the South American coast. Eventually, the entire Western Hemisphere would come under the control of European nations, leading to profound changes to its landscape, population, and plant and animal life. In the 19th century alone over 50 million people left Europe for the Americas.[2] The post-1492 era is known as the period of the Columbian Exchange.

Contents

Early conquests, claims, and colonies

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