Leif Eriksson explored for Norway. He is credited with being the first European person to set foot on North American soil when he disembarked at what is now Nova Scotia, naming the land he found Vinland, likely because of the ready supply of grapes that were growing in the area when he landed.
Although Christopher Columbus is generally given much credit for "discovering" America, it would be nearly 500 years after the Eriksson landing before Columbus would make his voyage. Still, he did not colonize the region, and he never returned to it again once he left.
Eriksson was tasked with spreading Christianity throughout the world. His mother build the first Christian church in Greenland. He was asked by Norwegian King Olaf I to spread Christianity, and it was on this mission that he ended up becoming the first European in North America.
Eriksson was of Norse descent. He was born just before the turn of the millennium in 1000 A.D. He was the son of Erik the Red. Much of what is known about this landing is derived from the ruins of a Viking settlement that was discovered in Newfoundland. It is thought to be the worlds' oldest European settlement; more than 2,000 objects have been recovered from the area.