The term colonial history of the United States refers to the history of the land from the start of European settlement to the time of independence from Europe, and especially to the history of the thirteen colonies of Britain which declared themselves independent in 1776. Starting in the late 16th century, the English,Scottish, French, Swedes, Germans and the Dutch began to colonize eastern North America. Many early attempts—notably the Lost Colony of Roanoke—ended in failure, but successful colonies were soon established. The colonists who came to the New World were from a variety of different social and religious groups who settled in different locations on the seaboard. The Dutch of New Netherland, the Swedes and Finnsof New Sweden, the Quakers of Pennsylvania, the Puritans of New England (later called "Yankees"), the English settlers of Jamestown, and the "worthy poor" of Georgia, and others—each group came to the new continent for different reasons and created colonies with distinct social, religious, political and economic structures.
Historians typically recognize four distinct regions in the lands that later became the Eastern United States. Listed from north to south, they are: New England, the Middle Colonies, the Chesapeake Bay Colonies (Upper South) and the Lower South. Some historians add a fifth region, the frontier; it was never separately organized. Other colonies that contributed land to the future United States include New France, Quebec, (Louisiana), New Spain), and Russian Alaska