Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus was the first recorded explorer to discover North America.

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Who was Christopher Columbus?

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Christopher Columbus was born in 1451 in Genoa, Italy. He went to sea as a young boy, and spent most of his life at sea.

Columbus wanted to find a new route to the Far East. In India, China, Japan and the Spice Islands he could get valuable silks and spices.

Columbus knew the world was round. He believed that by sailing west, instead of current route east around the coast of Africa, he would the East and the Spice Islands.

He moved to Portugal trying to get money to support his journey. He eventually got support from Ferdinand and Isabella, the king and queen of Spain.

Picture of Christopher Columbus

(Source: Library of Congress)

In 1492 Columbus set sail from Palos, Spain with three ships: the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria.

Replicas of the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria

(Source: Library of Congress)


Why did he come to America?

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Columbus was actually looking for America. He was looking for a shorter route to the far east. There he would find valuable silks and spices.

Map carved in wood showing Islands Columbus named on his Journey.

(Source: Library of Congress)


Where did he land?

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Columbus actually landed on a small island in the Bahamas which Columbus named San Salvador.

Columbus thought he had landed on the Spice Islands near India. This is why he named the people he met Indians.

Columbus died in 1506 still believing that he had found a new route to the East Indies.  


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