Colonial period
After a period of exploration by people from various European countries, Spanish, Dutch, English, French, Swedish, and Portuguese settlements were conventional. Although Leif Ericson was the first European to land in North America, Christopher Columbus is credited as the first European to set foot on what would one day become US country when he came to Puerto Rico on November 19, 1493, during his second voyage.

Spanish explorers came to what is now the United States start 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 Leon, who landed in 1513 on a luxuriant shore he christened La Florida.

Within three decades of Ponce de Leon's landing, the Spanish became the first Europeans to achieve the Appalachian Mountains, the Mississippi River, the Grand Canyon and the Great Plains. In 1540, Hernando de Soto undertook an extensive investigation of the present US and, in the same year, Francisco Vazquez de Coronado led 2,000 Spaniards and Native Mexican Americans across the modern Arizona–Mexico border and travel as far as central Kansas.

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