Europeans from Spain, Portugal, France, and England and others began sending explorers out to discover new lands and sources of wealth.
Europeans wanted to convert native populations to Christianity to “civilize” them.
Christopher Columbus and others like him traveled west rather than the traditional east to find new routes to the riches of the East.
Europeans particularly wanted to find new routes to take them to Asia where they could buy spices without having to travel over land on the dangerous Silk Road.
Once it became clear that Columbus had found a “New World,” explorers began looking for and trading with the natives for gold.
The Age of Exploration officially began in the 1400s when Europeans began traveling to Asia to buy spices on the Silk Road. This was an overland route, so during the late 1400s, explorers began looking for sea routes. The Age of Exploration ended in the 1600s.
In 1492, Columbus left Spain and traveled west in the hopes of finding a western sea route to Asia.
1492: Columbus found Hispaniola (modern Haiti and Dominican Republic)
1500: Cabral found Brazil on behalf of Portugal
1513: Ponce de Leon found Florida and founded St. Augustine on behalf of Spain
1519: Hernan Cortes explored and conquered Mexico on behalf of Spain
1524: Verrazzano explored North America from North Carolina to Newfoundland, Canada on behalf of France
1534: Cartier found Prince Edward Island, Canada on behalf of France
1585: Roanoke Colony founded in North Carolina by Raleigh on behalf of England