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It is also notable for its possible connection with the attempted colony of Vinland, established by Leif Erikson around the same period or, more broadly, with the West Norse colonization of the Americas.Early explorations and conquests were made by the Spanish and the Portuguese immediately following their own final reconquest of Iberia in 1492.As more nations gained an interest in the colonization of the Americas, competition for territory became increasingly fierce.
As the sponsor of Christopher Columbus's voyages, Spain was the first European power to settle and colonize the largest areas, from North America and the Caribbean to the southern tip of South America.
Eventually, most of the Western Hemisphere came under the control of European governments, leading to changes to its landscape, population, and plant and animal life.
In the 19th century over 50 million people left Europe for the Americas.
Over this same timeframe, Portugal claimed lands in North America (Canada) and colonized much of eastern South America, naming it Santa Cruz and Brazil.
Other European nations soon disputed the terms of the Treaty of Tordesillas.Pedro Álvares Cabral reached Brazil and claimed it for Portugal.Amerigo Vespucci, working for Portugal in voyages from 1497 to 1513, established that Columbus had reached a new set of continents.Cartographers still use a Latinized version of his first name, America, for the two continents.