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Columbus fist made landfall in the New World on a small island in the chain known today as the Bahamas. Christening the island San Salvador, he then made his way to Hispaniola (modern Dominican Republic and Haiti) and then to Cuba. The inhabitants of the islands belonged to different but closely related ethnicities, described collectively as Arawaks. The first people that Columbus encountered, of course, would have been on San Salvador, and they belonged to a Arawak subgroup known as Lucayan. They spoke, however, an almost identical language to Arawaks on Hispaniola and Cuba. The people on Hispaniola and Cuba were known as Taínos, a name that, confusingly, is often used to describe all Arawak peoples. There were hundreds of thousands of Arawak peoples, but within a century of Columbus's "discovery" they were all gone.
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