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Sailing for Spain, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus (1451–1506) and his crew reached the New World (the European term for North and South America) on October 12, 1492, with three ships—the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. They landed on a small island in the present-day Bahamas (a group of islands southeast of Florida), which Columbus claimed for Spain and named San Salvador. Not knowing where they were, Columbus incorrectly assumed they had reached "the Indies" (Asia), his original destination. He therefore gave the name "Indians" to the Tainos (Native Americans) he met on the island. When the Tainos told Columbus about a larger island to the south, he thought it must be part of China or Japan. Actually, it was the island now called Cuba. After leaving San Salvador, Columbus and his party spent a month sailing along the coast of Cuba in search of gold. In early December they reached another large island, which Columbus named Hispaniola (or Española, the Spanish word for Spain; today Hispaniola is comprised of the countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic). On this island, Columbus met an important Taino chief who was wearing gold ornaments that he gladly traded to Columbus for European goods. On Christmas Eve (December 24), Columbus invited the chief and his people to come aboard the Santa Maria for a holiday celebration. After the festivities everyone fell asleep and the ship hit a coral reef, sustaining damages that could not be repaired. On Christmas Day the Tainos helped the Spanish sailors unload the Santa Maria and carry the cargo ashore. Columbus then founded the first European settlement in the Americas on the site, a small bay where the Haitian village of Limonade-Bord-de-Mer now stands. He named the settlement La Navidad ("the birth"; meaning the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, also called the Christ, the founder of Christianity) since he had founded it on Christmas Day. When Columbus left La Navidad a few weeks later to return to Spain, twenty-one of his men remained behind. Thus began the Spanish colonization of the Americas.
Further Information: Jones, Mary E., ed. Christopher Columbus and His Legacy: Opposing Viewpoints. San Diego: Lucent, 1992; Mariners' Museum. The Age of Exploration. [Online] Available http://www.mariner.org/age/menu.html, October 22, 2000; Pelta, Kathy. Discovering Christopher Columbus: How History Is Invented. Minneapolis, Minn.: Lerner, 1991; Phillips, William D., Jr., and Carla Rahn Phillips. "Voyage of Destiny." American History Illustrated. September-October, 1992, pp. 28–47; Scavone, Daniel. Christopher Columbus. San Diego: Lucent, 1992.
Short Answer: San Salvador
And if you have time:
Christopher Columbus landed on the island he later named San Salvador of the present day Bahamas in Central America. Noone really knows which island exactly is San Salvador, the natives called it Guanahani, but the guesses are Samana Cay, Plana Cays, or San Salvador Island.
October 12, 1492, with three ships—the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. They landed on a small island in the present-day Bahamas which Columbus claimed for Spain and named San Salvador. Not knowing where they were, Columbus incorrectly assumed they had reached "the Indies" , his original destination. He therefore gave the name "Indians" to the Tainos he met on the island.
There is some debate as to the actual location of his landing, although he named the place "San Salvador," meaning "blessed Savior." Best evidence is that he landed on present day Waitling Island in the Caribbean. Columbus' journals do not provide sufficient information to more nearly identify the location.
One thing is certain: the Indians whom Columbus met were the Arawak (sometimes identified as Taino) Indians. They were very peaceful and welcoming. Had he landed one island over, he would have met the Caribs, who were a fierce, cannibalistic people. Had he landed there, chances are they would have been happy to have him for dinner, so to speak.
San Salvador, which means "holy savior" in Spanish, in the present-day Bahamas.
On October 12, 1492, Columbus landed in San Salvador in the present-day Bahamas.
On Basil island
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