Christopher Columbus was trying to go to east Asia. He wanted to reach the island of Japan, and, from there, go to the Spice Islands and China to trade, spread Christianity and explore Asia in the name of Spain.
Columbus believed he could get to Asia because he thought the world was smaller than did other experts, according to Biography. Most experts correctly believed that the Earth was about 25,000 miles in circumference. Columbus, however, thought the world was merely about 63 percent of the real size, a much more manageable distance. Columbus was wrong, but his bold move did cause him to encounter the New World, an area of which mainstream European scholars were utterly unaware. Columbus died still thinking he had reached Asia.