Why is Christopher Columbus so important?


Quick Answer

Christopher Columbus, an Italian explorer and navigator, is important because he is credited with discovering the New World, which is now known as the Americas. His explorations paved the way for the colonization and explorations of these areas.

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Full Answer

Between 1492 and 1504, Columbus made four different transatlantic voyages. His voyages were sponsored by King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella I of Spain. In April of 1492, Columbus was given the title Admiral of the Ocean Sea and was enrolled in the Book of Privileges.

Long before he sailed to the Americas, Columbus was born the son of a wool merchant in Genoa, Italy in 1451. He first worked as a part of the crew on a merchant ship. He remained with the crew until the boat sank off the coast of Portugal in 1470 when French privateers attacked the vessel. He floated on a piece of driftwood to Lisbon where he studied navigation, astronomy, cartography and mathematics. This is believed to be the place where he first came up with the idea of making a transatlantic voyage.

Though he is credited with discovering the Americas, Columbus was not the first European to make a transatlantic voyage. Evidence exists that Viking Leif Eriksson made the journey from Europe to North America five centuries before Columbus's discovery of the continent.

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