Most settlers in every colony were small farmers, but other industries developed within a few decades as varied as the settlements. Extraction industries grew up in furs, fishing and lumber.

The Spanish set up small settlements in New Mexico and Florida.

France had several small settlements along the Mississippi River.

The United States embarked on a vigorous expansion across North America throughout the 19th century, 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.

It is a founding member of the Organization of American States (OAS) and various other Pan-American and international organizations.

Many settlers were dissenting Christian groups who came seeking religious freedom.

The continent's first elected legislative assembly, Virginia's House of Burgesses created in 1619, and the Mayflower Compact, signed by the Pilgrims before disembarking, established precedents for the pattern of representative self-government and constitutionalism that would develop throughout the American colonies.

Native Americans were also often at war with neighboring tribes and allied with Europeans in their colonial wars.

At the same time, however, many natives and settlers came to depend on each other.

The end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 left the United States as the world's sole superpower. "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 phrase "United States" was originally plural, a description of a collection of independent states—e.g., "the United States are"—including in the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1865. "American" rarely refers to subjects not connected with the United States.

making it the world's foremost economic and military power. In non-English languages, the name is frequently the translation of either the "United States" or "United States of America", and colloquially as "America". The singular form—e.g., "the United States is"—became popular after the end of the American Civil War. S." refer to the country adjectivally ("American values", "U. After the Spanish conquistadors made the first contacts, the native population declined for various reasons, primarily from diseases such as smallpox and measles.

Cities eventually dotted the coast to support local economies and serve as trade hubs.