Vacation 2 USA
Travel & Tourism
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Northern Mariana Islands
Humans are believed to have first reached North America around 20,000 years ago, by crossing the Bering land bridge from Asia. These people settled and became the indigenous inhabitants of the Americas prior to the arrival of the Europeans.
The first European settlement in North America was established by Leif Erikson and the Vikings in 1000 AD, in what is today Newfoundland. However, this colony did not last for long, and it was several hundred years before Europeans reached the continent again. It has also been claimed that muslim explorers from Spain or Northwest Africa may have reached the continent, but this claim remains disputed.
The first European that is certain to have reached United States territory is Christopher Columbus who landed in Puerto Rico in 1492. Following Columbus, more and more Europeans began to arrive in the Americas, and the first expedition to what is not the continental United states was made by the Spaniard, Juan Ponce de León who is known to have explored Florida in 1513.
As the Americas were gradually explored, a variety of European countries including Denmark, France, Great Britain, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden, began to establish permanent colonies in the New World. In North America, the most successful of these was Great Britain, which by the end of the Seven Years War (known in the US as the "French and Indian War") had conquered most of the French territory in North America.
However, with the removal of the French military threat, disputes began to arise between Great Britain and her colonists over issues like taxation. These disputes eventually culiminated in American Revolution (1775 to 1783) which resulted in the formation of the United States from 13 former British colonies which had won their independence in the Revolutionary War.
Additional lands were gradually acquired by the US from France, Spain, the United Kingdom and Mexico, and within a century, the United States stretched across the entire North American continent. In 1867, Alaska was purchased from Russia. Further terroritorial acquistions followed with the annexation of Hawaii (1898), and following the Spanish-American war, of Puerto Rico. The final major addition to the US was the purchase of the Virgin Islands from Denmark in 1917.
The US has not been without difficulties during its history, the most noteable of these being the American Civil War (1861 to 1865) which was fought over the issues of slavery and states' rights. In the American Civil War, a large (Southern) part of the country, tried (ultimately unsuccessfully) to secede from the Union in an attempt to prevent the abolition of slavery, as well as to main and increase the individual states' rights.
In the 20th century, the US participated in both World Wars, and was on the victorious side in both conflicts. Following the end of World War II, the US engaged for over 40 years in a political, economic and military conflict with the USSR, known as the Cold War.
Today, the US is the most powerful country in the world, both economically and militarily, and US cultural influences can be seen all over the world in food, music, movies and the arts. Despite this, the US is today not without challenges, most notably the threat of terrorism, which was dramatically brought to the world's attention with the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001.
For more detailed history on any state or territory, please select:
Here are some books about the history of the United States:
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