Columbus Reaches the New World

Columbus Reaches the New World

Italian explorer Christopher Columbus sights a Bahamian island, believing that he has reached East Asia. His expedition went ashore the same day, and claimed the land for Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain, who sponsored his attempt to find a western ocean route to the fabled cities of Asia. Later that month, Columbus sighted Cuba, which he thought was mainland China, and in December the expedition landed on Hispaniola, which Columbus thought might be Japan. He established a small colony there with 39 of his men. The explorer returned to Spain with gold, spices, and “Indian” captives in March 1493, and was received with the highest honors by the Spanish court. He led three more expeditions to the “New World,” making numerous discoveries, without ever realizing that the lands he explored were part of North and South America, continents unknown to 15th-century Europe.