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During the 15th century, the European countries of Spain and Portugal began sending ships on expeditions to find new trade routes to Asia. An accidental outcome of this search was the discovery by Christopher Columbus in 1492 of land in the Western Hemisphere. Although he and his immediate successors failed to recognize it, he had found another world: the Americas. This “New World” contained all the natural wealth for which Europeans longed—and far more. Here were great deposits of the gold which they sought so eagerly. Here also were vast reserves of other minerals. Mile upon mile of plains, valleys, and mountains held fertile farmlands and pastures. The Europeans soon began to explore, claim, and colonize, or build colonies in, the Americas.

 Colonisation of the Americas, 2018, Encyclopaedia Britannica