The Vikings from Iceland reached Labrador and the island of Newfoundland a thousand years ago. European exploration began in 1497 with the arrival of the Italian John Cabot, who first drew up a map of Canada's East Coast.
In the mid 16th century, French exploration here began with Jacques Cartier. Cartier heard two captured guides speak the Iroquoian word kanata, meaning "village." By 1550 the name "Canada" started appearing on maps. Samuel Champlain established settlements on the east coast and then built a fortress at what is now known as Quebec City.
At the same time, English adventurers such as Henry Hudson were exploring the land and Britain was establishing colonies in North America. By the 1700s, England and France were fighting over "Canada". Eventually, Great Britain won, marked by victory in 1759 during the Battle of the Plains of Abraham at Quebec City.