The motives for Spanish, French and English explorers were all different, although in some ways, they were the same. They all wanted to find the Northwest Passage, which they believed was a direct and efficient route to the Orient - home of spices, silks and wealth. They also wanted to lay claim to new land to expand their empires. The Spanish explorers were in search of mineral wealth, looking for El Dorado (the City of Gold) and they aspired to spread Christianity. France also wanted to spread Christianity and find a new route by water to the East through North America. The English were motivated by a desire to colonize as much of the Americas as possinble - to add to the ever-increasing British Empire. The Spanish colonization of the Americas was the settlement and political rule over much of the western hemisphere which was initiated by the Spanish conquistadores and fought mostly by their native allies. Beginning with the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492, over three centuries the Spanish Empire expanded from early small settlements in the Caribbean to include Mexico, Central America, most of South America, and what today is Southwestern United States, the Pacific and Caribbean coasts of North America, reaching Alaska. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Spanish possessions in America began a series of independence movements, which culminated in Spain's loss of all of its colonies on the mainland of North, Central and South America by 1825. The remaining Spanish colonies of Cuba and Puerto Rico were occupied by the United States following the Spanish-American War (1898), ending Spanish rule in the Americas. The Spanish settled in many different places all over America.