Christopher Columbus was a famous explorer for Spain but he was born in Italy in the port city of Genoa. As a young man he dreamed of being a sailor and he was very influenced by a book on the travels of Marco Polo to China in which he described all the wonderful things he saw there.
Columbus was convinced the world was round and he decided that he would travel west to reach China and the Indies. First he had to look for sponsorship and he eventually got the support of Queen Isabella of Spain. She helped to fund three ships and Columbus set sail from the port of Palos in Spain in August 1492. Columbus was on board the flagship, which was called the Santa Maria. The other ships were the Nina and the Pinta. The first stop made on the voyage was the Canary Islands in order to make repairs and bring on fresh food supplies.
In September 1492 the three ships sailed west into the Atlantic. After a few weeks of sailing some of the sailors grew nervous and Columbus promised to turn back if they did not reach land within a couple of days. Then in October 1492, the ships reached an island, which Columbus called San Salvador. He called the people who lived there Indians. Columbus spent the following weeks exploring the islands of the region. The flagship sank and the timber was used to build a fort on the island that Columbus called Hispaniola.
In March 1492, Columbus returned to Spain to a hero’s welcome and brought with him some native people as well as products from his travels. Columbus made three more voyages but ended his career in shame as he was arrested for treating the native people with cruelty.