The European colonization of the Americas began in the late fifteenth century with the Portuguese exploration of Brazil. In the sixteenth century, other Europeans began colonizing North and South America, including the Spanish, English, French, and Dutch. By the early nineteenth century, most of the Americas were under European colonial rule.
The Spanish were the first Europeans to colonize the Americas, beginning with the conquest of the Aztec Empire in 1521. The Spanish also colonized parts of present-day Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. The Spanish empire in the Americas reached its height in the seventeenth century but began to decline in the eighteenth century.
The English began colonizing North America in the early seventeenth century with the establishment of the Virginia colony in 1607. The English also established colonies in present-day Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, and New York. In the eighteenth century, the English colonies in North America expanded westward, into what is now Canada and the United States.
The French began colonizing North America in the early seventeenth century with the establishment of the colony of New France in present-day Quebec. The French also established colonies in parts of present-day Canada, the United States, and the Caribbean. In the eighteenth century, the French colonies in North America expanded westward into the Louisiana Territory.
The Dutch began colonizing the Americas in the early seventeenth century with the establishment of the Dutch West India Company in present-day New York. The Dutch also had colonies in parts of present-day New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. In the eighteenth century, the Dutch colonies in North America were taken over by the English.
In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, many of the European colonies in the Americas gained independence from their colonial rulers. This process was known as the American Revolution in the United States, the French Revolution in France, and the independence movements in Latin America.