- from Early Settlements
Spain paid for Columbus’s four voyages. That gave it a big head start in exploring North America. Spanish explorers and conquerors went to islands in the Caribbean Sea. From there, they spread out to different parts of the mainland. One of the conquerors was Hernán Cortés.
Between 1519 and 1521, he and his army conquered the Aztec empire in Mexico. The Spanish built Mexico City on the ruins of the Aztec capital. In 1535, Spain named all its conquered territories New Spain. Mexico City became the capital. But claiming land was just the start. The Spanish built settlements to protect their claims and to rule the natives. Without settlements, other European countries might move into their land.