Where Did Christopher Columbus Land?
Christopher Columbus, on his famous voyage of 1492, made landfall after nine weeks at sea on an island he named San Salvador-now also known as Watling island-in the Bahamas. Columbus, a Genoese, set sail with three ships, the Santa Maria, the Pinta and the Nina, under the patronage of King Ferdinand and queen Isabella of Spain. This voyage was the first of his attempts to find a sea route to Asia.
After leaving San Salvador, Columbus discovered the island of Cuba and then Haiti, where he left some members of his crew garrisoning a fort called La Navidad. His flagship had been wrecked and there was not enough room on the remaining two ships to take all the men home.
Believing that he had reached Asia, Columbus returned to Spain where he was given a great reception. He came back with some “Indians” to show at court and evidence of the existence of gold in the New World. On his last voyage in 1502, Columbus reached Honduras. After much hardship, he returned to Spain in 1504 and died in 1506, an impoverished and broken man.
Columbus and his crew became the first Christians to make landfall in the Americas. Columbus was an Italian–born navigator sailing for the Crown of Castile in search of a westward route to Asia, to access the sources of spices and other oriental goods. This led to the discovery of a New World between Europe and Asia.
Columbus made a total of four voyages to the Americas between 1492 and 1502, setting the stage for the European exploration and colonization of the Americas, ultimately leading to the Columbian Exchange.
At the time of the voyages, the Americas were inhabited by the indigenous Americans, the descendants of peoples from Asia who crossed the Bering Strait, at that time a land bridge, to North America beginning around 20,000 years ago. Columbus’s voyages led to the widespread knowledge that a new continent existed west of Europe and east of Asia.
This breakthrough in geographical science led to the exploration and colonization of the New World by Spain and other European sea powers, and is sometimes cited as the start of the modern era.
Spain, Portugal and other European kingdoms sent expeditions and established colonies throughout the New World, converted the native inhabitants to Christianity, and built large trade networks across the Atlantic, which introduced new plants, animals, and food crops to both continents.
The search for a westward route to Asia continued in 1513 when Vasco Nuñez de Balboa crossed the narrow Isthmus of Panama to become the first European to sight the Pacific Ocean. The search was completed in 1521, when the Castilian Magellan expedition sailed across the Pacific and reached Southeast Asia.