Born: 1451-XX-XX Italy
Died: 1506-05-20 Spain
Columbus was an Italian explorer, navigator, and colonial administrator who made four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries under the auspices of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. Undertaken in 1492, 1493, 1498, and 1502, Columbus' voyages inaugurated transatlantic navigation, resulting in a fast and reliable route across the Atlantic to the Americas, an area previously unknown to Europe. Columbus provided the first written accounts of the Caribbean, Central America, and South America, and established the first European colony in the New World. Although he failed in his quest to find a route to the Far East, he opened the New World to European exploration, conquest, and settlement.
Samuel Eliot Morison, Admiral of the Ocean Sea: A Life of Christopher Columbus (Boston: Little, Brown, 1942), 7; Felipe Fernández-Armesto, "Columbus, Christopher," Dictionary of National Biography (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 5:282-84.