Many people learned in school that Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492. But actually America was discovered many times. The first people to come to North America were Asians who crossed the Bering Strait and entered Alaska at least 30,000 years ago. Over many centuries, they and their descendants spread across the Americas. These original Americans developed many cultures in the thousands of years that they controlled the land.
Europeans first came to North America around the year 1000. Vikings from northern Europe reached the eastern coast, but both disease and resistance from the native people drove them away. It is believed by many scientists and historians that some Vikings landed in the area where Massachusetts is located today. There are also remains of a Viking settlement at L'Anse Aux Meadow, in Newfoundland, Canada.
.One of the events that led to the next discovery of North America was the Crusades. During the 1100s and 1200s thousands of European Christians joined these holy wars to recapture Palestine from the Muslims. On the Crusades the Europeans bought new and exotic goods from the East, such as silk, spices, and precious jewels. As the demand for these goods grew, trade routes to Asia sprang up. Merchant ships departed from such Italian towns as Genoa and Venice, which soon became wealthy centers of business. The ships returned to Europe with new ideas as well as goods. In this way the Europeans' views of life began to change.
This time period, known as the Renaissance, saw the rebirth of an interest in learning. Europeans developed a new spirit of discovery. Rulers wanted to find new water passages to Asia for their own countries because Italians controlled all the Mediterranean routes. Soon, Spain, Portugal, France, England, and Holland also began to search for new ocean routes.
This search paved the way for the "discovery" of North America by Christopher Columbus. Columbus knew that Earth was round, as did most educated people of the time, and believed that he could find a route to the East by sailing west from Europe. Backed financially by the king and queen of Spain, he sailed in 1492. He failed to reach the East because of a great landmass that lay in his way. Columbus had rediscovered North America. Because Columbus believed that he had sailed to India, he referred to the land as the "West Indies" and the natives he found as "Indians.". Columbus's discovery of America led to a period of European exploration and colonization. A country colonizes land when it sets up settlements, or colonies, or people and controls the economies and governments in them.(http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com)