Who Was the First European to Reach North America?

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Contrary to the common myth that Christopher Columbus “discovered” America, he was not the first European to reach North America; that honor arguably belongs to Leif Erikson, who landed in North American locations in modern-day Canada and during the second century C.E., about 500 years before Columbus first landed in this part of the world. However, Leif Erikson’s father, Erik the Red, led the first group of European colonizers to Greenland, which arguably makes this group the first collection of Europeans to set foot on and establish their society in North America. Though Greenland is officially a Danish territory, it is usually considered to be located within North America rather than Europe.

Those who do not consider Greenland to be part of North America give credit for European “discovery” of North America to Leif Erikson, which is why he is sometimes referred to as the first European in America. Either way, there is physical and recorded evidence that confirms the fact that Christopher Columbus was not the first European in North America. Though Columbus landed much farther to the south, Leif Erikson and his father, Erik the Red, established European colonies in North America long before Columbus was even born. Leif Erikson has also served as a symbol for Scandinavian-American immigrants in more modern times.