The United States of America is located in the middle of the North American continent
with Canada to the north and Mexico to the south. The United States ranges from the
Atlantic Ocean on the nation's east coast to the Pacific Ocean bordering the west, and
also includes the state of Hawaii, a series of islands located in the Pacific Ocean, the state
of Alaska located in the northwestern part of the continent above the Yukon, and
numerous other holdings and territories.
The first known inhabitants of modern-day United States territory are believed to have
arrived over a period of several thousand years beginning sometime prior to 15,000 years
ago by crossing the Bering land bridge into Alaska. Solid evidence of these cultures
settling in what would become the US is dated to at least 14,000 years ago.
Relatively little is known of these early settlers compared to the Europeans who
colonized the area after the first voyage of navigator Christopher Columbus in 1492 for
Spain. Columbus' men were also the first documented Old Worlders to land in the
territory of the United States when they arrived in Puerto Rico during their second
voyage in 1493. Juan Ponce de Le\u00f3n, who arrived in Florida in 1513, is credited as
being the first European to reach modern-day U.S. territory, although some evidence
suggests that John Cabot might have reached what is presently New England in 1498.
In the 10th Century, the Norsemen established a Norse settlement in Newfoundland, but
it is unknown if they visited or settled in what is now U.S. territory. Like the continents
of North and South America, the United States of America gets its name from that of
Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci, who was named after Saint Emeric of Hungary.
In its beginnings, the United States consisted only of the Thirteen Colonies, which
consisted of states occupying the same lands as when they were British colonies.
American colonists fought off the British army in the American Revolutionary War of the
1770s and issued a Declaration of Independence in 1776. Seven years later, the signing of
the Treaty of Paris officially recognized independence from Britain. In the nineteenth
century, westward expansion of United States territory began, upon the belief of Manifest
Destiny, in which the United States would occupy all the North American land east to
west, from the Atlantic to Pacific Oceans. By 1912, with the admission of Arizona to the
Union, the U.S. reached that goal. The outlying states of Alaska and Hawaii were both
admitted in 1959.
Ratified in 1788, the Constitution serves as the supreme American law in organizing the
government; the Supreme Court is responsible for upholding Constitutional law. Many
social progresses came up starting in the nineteenth century; those advancements have
been widely reflected in the Constitution. Slavery was abolished in 1865 by the
Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution; the following Fourteenth and
Fifteenth Amendments respectively guaranteed citizenship for all persons naturalized
within U.S. territory and voting for people of all races. In later years, civil rights were
extended to women and black Americans, following much activism and lobbying from
members of these minority groups. The Nineteenth Amendment prohibited gender
discrimination in voting rights; later, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed racial
segregation in public places.
The Progressive Era marked a time of economic growth for the United States, advancing
to the Roaring Twenties. However, Black Tuesday (October 29, 1929) led to the Great
Depression, a time of economic downturn and mass unemployment. Consequently, the
U.S. government established the New Deal, a series of reform programs that intended to
assist those affected by the Depression. The economy recovered, so much that the U.S.
became a world superpower by the dawn of the Cold War.
\u00a7 1 Colonial America
\u00a7 1.1 Spanish colonization
\u00a7 1.2 French colonization
\u00a71.3 British colonization
\u00a7 2 Formation of the United States of America (1776\u20131789)
\u00a7 3 Westward expansion (1789\u20131849)
\u00a7 4 Civil War era (1849\u20131865)
\u00a7 5 Reconstruction and the rise of industrialization (1865\u20131890)
\u00a7 6 Progressivism, imperialism, and World War I (1890\u20131918)
\u00a77 Post-World War I and the Great Depression (1918\u20131940)
\u00a7 8 World War II (1940\u20131945)
\u00a78.2 Battle against Japan
\u00a7 9 Cold War beginnings and the Civil Rights Movement (1945\u20131964)
\u00a7 10 Cold War (1964\u20131980)
\u00a7 11 End of the Cold War (1980\u20131991)
\u00a7 12 1991\u2013present
\u00a7 13 Notes
\u00a7 14 References
\u00a7 15 External links
\u00a7 15.2.1 U. S. National Archives
\u00a7 15.3 Other sites
\u00a7 15.4 Specialized topics
\u00a7 15.5 Other resources
After a period of exploration by people from various European countries, Dutch, Spanish,
English, French, Swedish, and Portuguese settlements were established. Columbus
was the first European to set foot on what would one day become U.S. territory when he
came to Puerto Rico in 1493. In the 15th century, Europeans brought horses, cattle, and
hogs to the Americas and, in turn, took back to Europe corn, potatoes, tobacco, beans,
Spanish explorers came to what is now the United States beginning with Christopher
Columbus' second expedition, which reached Puerto Rico on November 19, 1493. The
first confirmed landing in the continental US was by a Spaniard, Juan Ponce de Le\u00f3n,
who landed in 1513 on a lush shore he christened La Florida.
Within three decades of Ponce de Le\u00f3n's landing, the Spanish became the first Europeans
to reach the Appalachian Mountains, the Mississippi River, the Grand Canyon and the
Great Plains. In 1540, De Soto undertook an extensive exploration of the present US and,
in the same year, Francisco V\u00e1zquez de Coronado led 2,000 Spaniards and Mexican
Indians across the modern Arizona-Mexico border and traveled as far as central
Kansas. Other Spanish explorers include Lucas V\u00e1squez de Ayll\u00f3n, P\u00e1nfilo de
Narv\u00e1ez, Sebasti\u00e1n Vizca\u00edno, Juan Rodr\u00edguez Cabrillo, Gaspar de Portol\u00e0, Pedro
Men\u00e9ndez de Avil\u00e9s, \u00c1lvar N\u00fa\u00f1ez Cabeza de Vaca, Trist\u00e1n de Luna y Arellano and Juan
The Spanish sent some settlers, creating the first permanent European settlement in the continental United States at St. Augustine, Florida in 1565. Later Spanish settlements included Santa Fe, San Antonio, Tucson, San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Most Spanish settlements were along the California coast or the Santa Fe River in New Mexico.
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