In the centuries after Christopher Columbus first reached America, European governments competed to build empires around the world.
An empire is a group of countries ruled by a single power. The British controlled slave-trading “castles” (forts where enslaved people were held) and colonies that stretched from Africa to the Caribbean to Canada. They took natural resources from these places to make goods. Then they made money by selling and trading these goods. Britain, Spain, the Netherlands (Holland), Sweden, and France all set up colonies in North America.