European Colonization of North America

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Which countries colonized North America?

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Great question! The boundaries of the North American continent extend to the further regions of Canada and southernly into Mexico and Central America. North America contains twenty-four countries within its borders. Theories abound as to where the people colonizing North America originated. One theory is that the first explorers and colonists crossed a land bridge between North America and what is now modern-day Russia. The people originated from Asia and gradually migrated south.

Though Vikings get credit for being first, some theorists believe exploration of the Americas began long before the arrival of the Vikings. These theorists postulate an ethnic group from the Phoenician people may have pre-dated the Vikings. The Afro-Phoenicians, as they are sometimes called, resided on the coast of Northern Africa. The physical evidence on which these theorists base their claim is the striking similarities between some of the artifacts found in Central American and Northern Mexican ruins with Phoenician culture. Phoenicians were known as great sailors, and records of the Phoenician civilization contain many legends of their explorations across the vast ocean.

Physical evidence supports the colonization of the north Americas began more than one thousand years ago. One of the earliest known explorations and attempts for settlement were Viking explorers who settled the Newfoundland coastal area. There is some physical evidence of Viking exploration. The Viking explorers did not remain on the coast for long, but they are generally thought to be the first colonists on American shores.

Upon learning of the Viking explorations, the next groups came from Europe. Europeans were in constant motion by land and by sea to expand their colonial ambitions beyond their traditional borders and into Asia. The list begins with Portugal and Spain. Portuguese explorers were renown for forays across the world. Spanish explorers traveled to Central America and what is now the Florida coast. Spain and Portugal were followed by France and Great Britain. Of the four countries, the British were the most successful at long-term colonization.

There are a number of countries we tend to forget made attempts at colonizing. One such country is the Netherlands. Dutch settlers had success in the Hudson Bay area. Like the Netherlands, we do not think about Sweden and Denmark. Sweden and Denmark had short-lived colonies in the Americas. Swedish and Danish settlements were subsumed by the Dutch over time and they did not remain long as colonial explorers.

As history records, there were a number of explorers and colonizers in the North American continent. As more physical evidence is discovered and the tools of science improve, it should not be surprising if there is another group that will claim partial responsibility for colonizing the North American continent!

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