This lesson encourages students to explore how geography influenced early settlements in the Americas.
European settlement of the Americas began soon after Christopher Columbus’ voyage of discovery in 1492. At first, most settlements were limited to the Caribbean and Central and South America as Spain and Portugal established colonies. However, explorers from European countries such as the Netherlands, England and France explored the coast of what would become the United States and learned about its many resources, including furs, fish and timber. By the late 1500s, almost 100 years after Columbus’s voyage, Europeans were beginning to establish settlements along the coast. Many of these early settlements, such as Roanoke and Ajacan, failed. The English settlement at Jamestown in 1607 was the first successful colony in what would become the 13 colonies of England.