Christopher Columbus

   Even before Vasco da Gama brought wealth to Portugal, Spain also had become interested in the search for new trade routes. Its rulers, Ferdinand and Isabella, decided to finance a voyage by Christopher Columbus, an Italian navigator. Thinking that the world was much smaller than it actually is, Columbus believed he could reach India quickly and easily by sailing westward.
   In August 1492 Columbus set sail with three small ships from Spain and crossed the Atlantic. His small fleet landed in October on a tiny island in the Caribbean Sea. He named the island San Salvador. After visiting several other islands, Columbus returned triumphantly to Spain in the spring of 1493 to report his discoveries. He believed the islands to be off the coast of India and therefore called their inhabitants "Indians." Actually, he had discovered the islands later known as the West Indies. Although Columbus made three more voyages between 1493 and 1504, he believed until his death that the lands he had found were part of Asia.