European Exploration of America

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Where did Columbus land?

Where did Columbus first land in the new world?

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Despite the popular misconception that Christopher Columbus discovered North America, he never actually did set foot there. Through four different excursions starting in 1492, Columbus explored the coasts of Central and South America, landing on various Caribbean islands, including what is now known as the Bahamas and Hispaniola. 

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Despite the popular misconception that Christopher Columbus discovered North America, he never actually did set foot there. Through four different excursions starting in 1492, Columbus explored the coasts of Central and South America, landing on various Caribbean islands, including what is now known as the Bahamas and Hispaniola. 

Scholars believe that the island Columbus first landed on, which he dubbed "San Salvador," is one of the islands in the Bahamas: either Plana Cays, Samana Cays, or San Salvador Island (which was named that in 1925 because of the theory that that's where Columbus landed). The island that he landed on was called "Guanahani" by the native people who lived there, including the Arawak, Taíno, and Lucayan.

Columbus also explored the coast of Cuba and the Bay of Rincón on this first expedition. 

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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.

 

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After leaving Spain in hopes of finding a new trade route for his financiers, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, the explorer Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) eventually landed in what would later be recognized as North America after a five-week voyage. Leaving Spain on August 3, 1492, Columbus' three ships first made repairs in the Canary Islands before sailing to the southwest a month later. Expecting to reach an unexplored area of Asia, he instead landed on the island of Guanahani (which Columbus renamed San Salvador in what is now The Bahamas) on October 12. The true locale of Columbus' landing is still up for debate: More than likely, his landing site was on present-day Samana Cay, Plana Cays or the later named San Salvador Island. It is said that Columbus never accepted that he had discovered a new continent; it is suggested that he maintained throughout his life that the islands were part of Asia.

 

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