Who was Christopher Columbus?

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Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) was an Italian explorer, colonizer and navigator. He is more widely known as the one who discovered America and helped bring it to the forefront of Western consciousness. His discoveries and travels set the stage for the later European colonization of Latin and North America.

He was born in the Republic of Genoa, in today’s northwestern Italy. His father was a wool merchant. An ambitious man, Christopher Columbus, hoped to find a western route to the profitable spice markets in Asia. Instead of sailing to the East according to the practice at that time, he hoped that if he sailed west, he would arrive in countries like Japan and China. Columbus’s first voyage was completed in 1492 where, while he intended to travel to Japan, he arrived in the Bahamas. Columbus made a total of four trips, sailing extensively around the Caribbean islands as well as the mainland, to places like Panama. Columbus was not the first person to arrive in America, but he was the first to travel there and set up permanent settlements.

Columbus is honored in America as the man who put America on the map. Some take a more critical view of Columbus, showing evidence of mistreatment of indigenous Indians, which laid the foundations for the next centuries of mistreatment. Columbus died in 1506, at the age of 54, since his health has been heavily deteriorated in his final years.