- Columbus links here. For the U.S. state capital, see Columbus, Ohio.
Christopher Columbus was a trader and explorer. He was born in Genoa, Italy in the year 1451. He died on May 20, 1506 in Valladolid. He wrote that he went to sea at the age of 14. He piloted four voyages to the Bahamas believing he had reached the Indies.
Columbus is often considered the first European person to have discovered the Americas when he landed in the Bahamas in 1492. Many people doubt this for several reasons. One of these is that though the Caribbean is often considered part of North America, it is not on the American mainland. Another is that some believe that America was discovered by the Viking Leif Ericson around 1000 AD. Still others doubt the idea of "discovery" of America at all, as Native Americans had been living there for thousands of years before Columbus.
While he did not actually discover the Americas, he discovered the Bahamas, close to the Americas. He was once called the first European to find out because people already lived at the Americas, though it is known now that the Vikings did this earlier. Columbus landed on a small island in the Bahamas. The natives called it Guanahani; Columbus renamed it San Salvador (Holy Savior). Columbus stayed on the island for two days. He met with members of the Taino tribe who were living on the island. Not knowing where he was, and always assuming that he had reached Asia, the "Indies," he called them Indians. 
In August of 1492, Columbus left Spain in the ship called Santa Maria with the ships Pinta and Niña along side. Columbus sailed the Atlantic Ocean because he was hoping to find a shorter, safer way to China and India. He wanted to bring back spices and gold for the King and Queen of Spain: Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon. He knew that the world was round but he did not know how large it was. He had heard that Marco Polo had found a sea to the east of China and he believed that it must be the same as sea to the west of Europe. He did not really know about the Pacific Ocean and The Americas, and that the Atlantic Ocean did not go all the way to China.
When he found some islands at the end of his voyage, he thought he had reached the East Indies when in fact he had landed on an island in the Bahamas. That is why he named the people living there "Indians". In all, he made four voyages to America. Colombia is also named after him.
Other Facts About Christopher Columbus [change]
There is disagreement on where Columbus came from. Many people think that he was born in Genoa. Experts have studied clues to Columbus' birthplace, but no final answer has been found. Columbus Day is a U.S. holiday that commemorates the landing of Christopher Columbus in the New World on October 12, 1492.
Did you know? [change]
Did you know that Niña means girl in Spanish? One of Columbus's ship was nicknamed that due to the fact that it was the smallest ship. It's real name was Santa Clara.
Did you also know that Columbus's biggest ship, the Santa Maria, was less than 23m long?
Later life [change]
Columbus was arrested in Santo Domingo on August 23, 1500. He was sent to Spain in chains in October 1500. He was released on December 12, 1500 and taken to court.
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