Traveling to India around the southern tip of Africa was dangerous and difficult. An Italian sailor by the name of Christopher Columbus proposed finding a new route by sailing west. Columbus thought that if they sailed west, they would eventually circle the globe and arrive in eastern Asia.
For seven years Christopher Columbus traveled around Europe looking for someone who would finance his journey. The monarchs of Europe made fun of him, saying that it was too risky and dangerous to attempt such a voyage around the globe.
Finally, Columbus arrived in Spain. For many years Spain had been caught up in civil war. As a result, they were behind much of Europe in their development. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella were anxious to prove that Spain could be as powerful and successful as their neighbor Portugal.
In August of 1492, they granted Christopher Columbus the supplies, men and ships that he needed to carry out his expedition. Columbus was given three sailing ships. These ships were named the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria.
Columbus’ men were terrified that they would be lost at sea and that they would suffer starvation. As the days wore on these men began to turn against him. Columbus was forced to agree to turn back if they did not find land within three days.
On the night of the second day, just before he would have had to turn around, land was sighted. Columbus and his men discovered an island in the Caribbean, which they named Hispanolia. This island is the location of the present day nations of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Columbus did not realize that he had arrived in a new part of the world. He was convinced that he was in India. For this reason, he called the natives who lived on these islands the Indians.
Columbus returned to the Americas three more times. Each time believing that he was in India. During his life, he never realized what he had discovered.