Unit 2: Exploration and Colonization

From the 1200s through the 1400s, Europeans began to look for new trade routes to Asia. Europeans learned about other cultures because of these explorations. Large kingdoms in West Africa became trading posts. Developments in European technology expanded exploration.

The Spanish were the first Europeans to set up permanent colonies in America, beginning with Christopher Columbus's voyage in 1492. This led to an exchange of goods between Europe and the Americas. Spanish explorers defeated powerful empires in Central and South America, such as the Aztec and the Inca. From the 1500s to the 1700s, the Spanish expanded their empire in the Americas.

Beginning in the late 1400s, many Europeans searched for the Northwest Passage, a route believed to connect the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. Many explorers searched parts of North America. While looking for this route, they made other discoveries, such as Newfoundland and the Hudson Bay.

France and England also settled parts of America. French colonies relied on the fur trade and experienced slow growth. The first successful English colony was Jamestown, Virginia. Later, Pilgrims settled the Plymouth colony in present-day Massachusetts.