JEAN-LOUP CHARMET / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JEAN-LOUP CHARMET / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
The Italian navigator and discoverer of the New World Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) approaching the American Indians on the island of Hispaniola (Haiti). Columbus believed, wrongly, that the Earth's circumference was about 29,000km and that Asia was only 5000km to the west of Europe. He proposed to the Portuguese king John II a westward trip to Asia but his project was rejected by the royal geographers. In 1492 the monarchs of Spain funded his project and he sailed towards Asia with the ships Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria. On 12 October 1492 he landed on a small island (San Salvador, Bahamas) of what he thought were the Indies.
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