After Spain sent Columbus on his first voyage to the New World in 1492, other explorers followed.
The first Europeans to arrive in territory of the modern United States were Spanish conquistadors such as Juan Ponce de León, who made his first visit to Florida in 1513; however, if unincorporated territories are accounted for, then credit would go to Christopher Columbus who landed in Puerto Rico on his 1493 voyage.
The United States embarked on a vigorous expansion across North America throughout the 19th century, acquiring new territories, as a global superpower, the first country to develop nuclear weapons, the only country to use them in warfare, and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union competed in the Space Race, culminating with the 1969 moon landing. "Columbia", a name popular in poetry and songs of the late 18th century, derives its origin from Christopher Columbus; it appears in the name "District of Columbia".
The war ended in 1783 with the United States becoming the first country to gain independence from a European power.
The current constitution was adopted in 1788, with the first ten amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, being ratified in 1791 to guarantee many fundamental civil liberties.
The United States is a highly developed country, with the world's largest economy by nominal GDP and second-largest economy by PPP, accounting for approximately a quarter of global GDP. Joseph Reed, Moylan expressed his wish to carry the "full and ample powers of the United States of America" to Spain to assist in the revolutionary war effort. The singular form is now standard; the plural form is retained in the idiom "these United States". S." refer to the country adjectivally ("American values", "U. Over time, indigenous cultures in North America grew increasingly complex, and some, such as the pre-Columbian Mississippian culture in the southeast, developed advanced agriculture, grand architecture, and state-level societies.
In 1507, the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller produced a world map on which he named the lands of the Western Hemisphere America in honor of the Italian explorer and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci (Latin: The first documentary evidence of the phrase "United States of America" is from a letter dated January 2, 1776, written by Stephen Moylan, Esq., George Washington's aide-de-camp and Muster-Master General of the Continental Army. The second draft of the Articles of Confederation, prepared by John Dickinson and completed by June 17, 1776, at the latest, declared "The name of this Confederation shall be the 'United States of America The short form "United States" is also standard. The difference is more significant than usage; it is a difference between a collection of states and a unit. After his initial landfall in January 1778 at Waimea harbour, Kauai, Cook named the archipelago the "Sandwich Islands" after the fourth Earl of Sandwich—the acting First Lord of the Admiralty of the British Royal Navy.
At the time, the Spanish were able to monopolize the trade between Asia and North America, granting limited licenses to the Portuguese.
When the Russians began establishing a growing fur trading system in Alaska the Spanish began to challenge the Russians, with Pérez's voyage being the first of many to the Pacific Northwest.
After having arrived in the Hawaiian islands in 1778, Captain Cook sailed north and then north-east to explore the west coast of North America north of the Spanish settlements in Alta California.
English colonists were supplemented by waves of Scotch-Irish and other groups.
As coastal land grew more expensive, freed indentured servants pushed further west.