Christopher Columbus Questions and Answers

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How did Columbus describe the landscape of the New World and its inhabitants?

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Columbus spent five months exploring islands in the Caribbean before returning to Spain. Because of the lengthy time he spent exploring the area, he was able to paint quite a picture of the landscape and people who lived in this area, which he reported to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, who had financed the exploration.

Overall, the letter paints a portrait of this land as rich in resources and ripe for claim—and without resistance. Instead of seeing the calm demeanor of the land's inhabitants as a strength, Columbus viewed it as a weakness which allowed them to be easily conquered and ruled by Spain:

The inhabitants...are all, as I said before, unprovided with any sort of iron, and they are destitute of arms, which are entirely unknown to them, and for which they are not adapted; not on account of any bodily deformity, for they are well made, but because they are timid and full of terror.

Columbus describes the people as "honest" and generous, as they share their resources with him...

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