History of the United States
French ColonizationGaspé Peninsula, La Haute-Gasp
France began colonizing the Americas in the 16th century and continued on into the following centuries as it established a colonial empire in the Western Hemisphere. France established colonies in much of eastern North America, on a number of Caribbean islands, and in South America. Most colonies were developed to export products such as fish, rice, sugar, and furs. The first French colonial empire stretched to over 10,000,000 km2 at its peak in 1710, which was the second largest colonial empire in the world, after the Spanish Empire. As they colonized the New World, the French established forts and settlements that would become such cities as Quebec and Montreal in Canada; Detroit, Green Bay, St. Louis, Cape Girardeau, Mobile, Biloxi, Baton Rouge and New Orleans in the United States; and Port-au-Prince, Cap-Haïtien (founded as Cap-Français) in Haiti, Cayenne in French Guiana and São Luís (founded as Saint-Louis de Maragnan) in Brazil.