After the discovery of the transatlantic continent by Christopher Columbus in 1492, North America was settled in the 16th and especially in the 17th century by Europeans. While the Spaniards preferred to settle in Florida and the French in Canada, English sailors reached an area on the east coast in 1584. Very quickly, the English make up the largest North American immigrant group. The Aborigines, who are familiar with ethnic and cultural diversity, generally welcomed the strangers. The Europeans on the other hand thought about the Indians they were savages and pagans and they made no effort to understand the religion, politics and Native society. The European invaders bring diseases into the country, with terrible consequences for the Indians. For example, thousands of indigenous people died of smallpox epidemics over the next few centuries because their immune system was not prepared for this pathogen.