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 under a single authority. The British controlled slave-trading “castles” (forts where enslaved people were held) and colonies in areas as far apart as Africa, the Caribbean, and what is now Canada. They took natural resources from these places to make goods. Then they made money by selling and trading the goods. Britain, Spain, the Netherlands (Holland), Sweden, and France all established colonies in North America.