A chronology of key events:
1565 – First permanent European settlement in North America – St Augustine, present-day Florida – founded by the Spanish. North America is already inhabited by several distinct groups of people, who go into decline following the arrival of settlers.
1607 – Jamestown, Virginia, founded by English settlers, who begin growing tobacco.
1620 – Plymouth Colony, near Cape Cod, is founded by the Pilgrim Fathers, whose example is followed by other English Puritans in New England.
17th-18th centuries – Hundreds of thousands of Africans brought over and sold into slavery to work on cotton and tobacco plantations.
1763 – Britain gains control of territory up to the Mississippi river following victory over France in Seven Years’ War.
War of Independence
1774 – Colonists form First Continental Congress as Britain closes down Boston harbour and deploys troops in Massachusetts.