In the fifteenth century, European countries sailed west, searching for new trade routes to Asia. Before 1492, Europe had long suffered from scarcity and famine. As the voyages of Columbus and his successors revealed lands unknown to them, intense competition arose to exploit the resources of the Western hemisphere, and later to colonize it. Mapping the lands, coastlines, and seaways became crucial to this enterprise. In this lesson, students will analyze maps and explore student-generated thoughts and questions about the maps to compare and contrast European colonization in North America.