Columbus statue - Boston
A statue depicting Christopher Columbus is seen with its head removed at Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park on June 10, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. © Getty Images/Tim Bradbury

On August 3, 1492, Columbus set sail from Palos, Spain, with three small ships, the Santa Maria, the Pinta, and the Nina. On October 12, the expedition sighted land, probably Watling Island in the Bahamas, and went ashore the same day, claiming it for Spain. 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.

Columbus died on May 20, 1506, without realizing that he had discovered the New World.

However, his journey kicked off centuries of exploration and exploitation on the American continents. Read more about Columbus’s life and judge for yourself.

Le secret des grandes fortunes sans cause apparente est un crime oublié, parce qu’il a été proprement fait. (Behind Every Great Fortune There Is a Great Crime.) — Honoré de Balzac