History of the United States. Starting from 13 English colonies on the Atlantic coast, the United States developed into an independent republic that eventually extended to the Pacific, with Alaska and Hawaii among its states. Although the original 13 colonies were British, several other nations took part in the exploration and settlement of the territory that became the United States. Both France and Spain once controlled more of North America than did Great Britain. Dutch and Swedish colonies existed temporarily on the Atlantic coast. Thus the beginnings of the United States, like its later development as a nation, involved contributions by people from many lands.North America was inhabited by Indians and Eskimos long before the first Europeans arrived. White explorers came into contact with the Indians and had an impact on their culture from the very beginning, but the Eskimos were not greatly influenced by other cultures until the 20th century.