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North America in History: the Beginning

The history of North America encompasses the past developments of people populating the continent of North America. The continent became a human habitat later than continents such as Africa, Asia, and Europe, when people migrated across the Bering Sea 40,000 to 17,000 years ago. These migrants settled in many locations on the continent, from the Inuit of the far north to the Mayans and Aztecs of the south. These isolated communities each developed their own unique ways of life and cultures, and their interaction with one another was limited in comparison to the extensive trade and conflict of civilizations across the Atlantic in Europe and Asia.

As the Age of Exploration dawned in Europe, Europeans began to arrive in the Americas and develop colonial ambitions for both North and South America. Famously, Christopher Columbus discovered the New World, and influxes of Europeans soon followed and overwhelmed the native population. North America became a staging ground for ongoing European rivalries. The continent was divided by three prominent European powers: Great Britain, France, and Spain. The influences of colonization by these states on North American cultures are still apparent today.

Conflict over resources on North America ensued in various wars between these powers, but, gradually, the new European colonies developed desires for independence. Revolutions, such as the American Revolution and Mexican War of Independence, created new, independent states that came to dominate North America. The Canadian Confederation formed in 1867, creating the modern political landscape of North America.

From the 19th to 21st centuries, North American states have developed increasingly deeper connections with each other. Although some conflicts have occurred, the continent has for the most part enjoyed peace and general cooperation because its states, as well as open commerce and trade between them. Modern developments include the opening of free trade agreements, extensive immigration from Mexico and Latin America, and drug trafficking concerns in these regions.

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