European Colonization of North America

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How did geography affect the exploration and development of colonial America?

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Geography allowed for earlier and deeper exploration of what would become the southern colonies. The first conquistadors who explored the American mainland were able to do so because of the networks of rivers and other waterways in the southern part of the continent. Conversely, the colonies in the northern part of the continent were situated along coasts, as mountainous and sometimes barren terrain prevented exploration into the interior.

Agriculture and industry varied vastly between the northern, middle, and southern colonies due to geography, and this greatly impacted development. Agriculture was more prosperous in the middle and southern colonies, with tobacco and cotton becoming immediate staples of the economy. The northern colonies boasted fruitful fishing industries, but weather and terrain often hindered harvests. Better weather in the middle and southern colonies, and thus better crop yields for farmers, resulted in the relocation of thousands of people, which led to faster development than in the north.

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