Discovery of America


We can say that the discovery of America is probably the most important of the events that have happened throughout the history of the world. Until the discovery of America, and since the origins of mankind, the development of the history of American, European and Asian civilizations had developed and focused entirely independently ; But with the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Antilles, there was contact between two parallel universes that were at evolutionary points full of differences.

  • When was it:  It started on 10/12/1492
  • Where was:  America

What is the Discovery of America?

Discovery of America is called the arrival of the first Europeans to American lands thanks to the project promoted by Christopher Columbus  and supported by the Catholic Monarchs  to discover new lands and treasures, arriving on October 12, 1492 on the island of Guanahaní , baptized first as San Salvador by Colón.


What was the discovery of America

In universal history it is known as the “Discovery of America “ at the moment in which the arrival of the first group of Europeans , led and guided by Christopher Columbus and his crew, to American territory , which according to the data collected happened on the 12th. October 1492.


The story goes that Christopher Columbus and his crew left Spain a couple of months earlier looking for a way to the Indies , with the sole objective of establishing a new trade route , in order to avoid the various obstacles posed by the Arabs . However, the crew that consisted of three caravels: the Niña , the Pinta and the Santa María lost their course and began to sail towards the Atlantic to finally meet American territory, which was called the New World , since it offered for the Europeans a landscape and a population that they had never observed before.

Historic context

Important historical events mark the main period of the Spanish monarchy in the hands of the Catholic kings, Fernando de Aragón and Isabel de Castilla. They expelled the Moors from Spain eliminating the Arabs who had invaded the peninsula .

The expedition of Christopher Columbus consolidates the expansion of Spain and begins the greatest process of continental conquest in history. Columbus raises the cross and the royal standard on Guanahaní Island and takes possession of the lands. In mid-April 1993, Columbus is received by the Catholic kings, with indigenous people and testimonies, and enjoys the highest honors, becoming famous in Europe .


The main antecedents that were given for the discovery of America began with the fall of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453. This situation greatly hindered the trade that existed between East and West, making Europeans have to search for new routes of navigation.

In addition, the use by Europeans of some Arab and Chinese inventions such as the compass, astrolabe , gunpowder and paper motivated the discovery and the desire to find new things and the impulse of the Catholic religion coupled with the desire for wealth of Europeans. led to the discovery of America.

In order to discover America, a series of trips were made, which were:

  • First voyage : Columbus set out with three ships from Puerto Palos in Spain: La Santa María , La Pinta and La Niña . Despite many setbacks, they managed to reach land on October 12 and although they believed they had reached the Indies , they had reached the island of Guanahaní in the Bahamas, an island that was baptized with the name of San Salvador . They discovered Santa María de la Concepción and Isabela Island. Days later they discovered what is now Haiti and named it Hispaniola Island. On this trip they founded Fort Navidad .
  • Second trip : it began on September 25, 1493 and its objective was to mark the Spanish presence in the new territories, teach the Catholic religion and find the way to Cathay . The city of Isabella was founded and Spanish rule was consolidated.
  • Third trip: it  began on May 30, 1498 and the objective was to prove that there was a new continent under the line of Ecuador . They discovered the islands of Trinidad , Tobago , Granada and Margarita .
  • Fourth voyage : he was ordered not to touch land on Hispaniola and had to seek the Strait of Malacca in order to reach the Indies. They left en route on May 9, 1502, arriving in Honduras and on October 16 they had the first contact between Mayans and Spaniards .

Characteristics of the discovery of America

The main characteristics of the discovery of America are the following:

  • The arrival of the conquerors was not peaceful and there was the bloodiest genocide in history in American lands .
  • There were many diseases brought by Europeans that caused many deaths.
  • Forced labor was imposed by the conquerors.
  • African slaves were brought to America.
  • There was the expansion of the Catholic Church and its philosophies.
  • It laid the foundations for intercontinental trade .
  • The miscegenation began .
  • Society was divided into classes .
  • Some populations could not be dominated by Europeans.


There were many causes of the discovery of America, the most important were:

  • It was necessary to maintain the Silk Road and make it safe as it passed through the Mediterranean.
  • The fall of Constantinople under the Ottoman Empire who took control of the most important commercial crossing of the time.
  • The need for a new route to carry out trade with the East.
  • There was a maritime competition between Spain and Portugal.
  • Expulsion of the Muslims that allowed the Spanish crown to invest money in the expeditions.
  • The great possibility of teaching and imposing the Catholic religion during travel.
  • The search for wealth to increase economic power .


There were many consequences that occurred with the discovery of America, both for its inhabitants and for Europeans. They can be divided into three groups: economic , social and political or cultural.

For America , new crops such as coffee were introduced , wars , forced labor and disease epidemics arose , the white and black races were introduced, producing a cross known as mestizo (black and white), mulatto (black and Indian) and zambos . There was the fall of the Aztec , Mayan and Inca empires , as well as their culture. European culture prevailed in all aspects of life and indigenous culture was relegated to religious or family spheres.

For Europe , American crops were of great importance and marine trade was developed, producing price inflation . Many Europeans emigrated to American lands, the bourgeoisie became rich and socially promoted. European empires were born and wars were fought to try to dominate American wealth. The attacks on ports and piracy were common and new species, minerals and issues met mapping .


Some of the most recognized characters during the discovery were:

  • Marco Polo
  • Vicente Yanez
  • Juan de la Cosa
  • Catholic kings
  • Christopher Columbus
  • Americo vespucio
  • Alonso de Ojeda
  • Vasco Nunez de Balboa
  • Juan Sebastian del Cano
  • Carlos I of Spain
  • Francisco Fernández de Córdoba
  • Juan de Grijalva
  • Hernan Cortes


  • The Santa María : it was the largest and it was not a caravel but a ratchet as well as being the slowest ship of the three. There were 39 men on board, including Admiral Christopher Columbus . It ran aground on December 25, 1492 near Haiti , and its timbers were used to build Fort Navidad .
  • La Pinta : it was the fastest of the three and from there, Rodrigo de Triana sighted land for the first time on October 12, 1492.
  • La Niña:  in it Juan Niño arrived in America with a crew of 26 men. It was used by Christopher Columbus to return to Palos where he arrived on March 15, 1493.

Importance of the discovery of America

There was an exchange of two cultures that were isolated from each other, generating immigrants from the old continent and founding populations that are currently being erected. It was possible to confirm that the earth is round because at that time it was believed to be flat. The discovery laid the foundation for the world we live in today and international trade.

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