Christopher Columbus Facts for Kids
Who was Christopher Columbus?
Christopher Columbus was an explorer. He is credited for discovering America and other lands.
Christopher Columbus was born Cristoforo Colombo in Genoa Italy. The exact date of his birth is unknown but is believed to be between August 25th-October 31st 1451.
When Christopher Columbus was young he worked with his father who was a weaver, but that wasn’t his passion. He always wanted to be a sailor.
Christopher Columbus started sailing as a teenager. He studied geography and listened to stories from other sailors.
At age 25 he was sailing around the Mediterranean when his boat was attacked by the French and set on fire.
Christopher Columbus was able to escape and swam to shore. He ended up in Portugal.
In Portugal he met Dona Felipa Moniz de Perestrello. Her later married her. The couple had one son named Diego.
While in Portugal Christopher Columbus and his brother ran a shop that sold maps to sailors.
At that time it took a long time for Europeans to get certain goods. Europeans traveled East to get to Asia. They had to travel far across the Mediterranean Sea then through deserts and mountains. It was a long and hard journey. Christopher Columbus felt that there had to be a better way.
Christopher Columbus wanted to find a better route to the East (Asia-India,China and Japan). He believed that if he traveled West he would find a shorter and easier route.
He thought that if he found a quicker route it would be easier for Europeans to obtain spices, jewels and silks for trade.
The Nina, Pinta and the Santa Maria
In 1484 Columbus asked King John II of Portugal for ships and a crew of men to travel across the Atlantic in search for a quicker route to Asia. He was turned down, but that didn’t stop him.
Christopher Columbus would not give up and eventually in 1492 King Ferdinand and his wife Queen Isabella of Spain decided to fund Columbus’ trip and gave him ships and a crew.
He was given three ships the Nina, Pinta, and the Santa Maria and a crew of 90 men.
Columbus set sail on August 3rd 1492 from Palos Spain.
Columbus calculated that Asia was 2,4000 miles West of Portugal however, he miscalculated because it is actually 10,000 miles away.
The New World
On October 12th 1492 Columbus landed on a small island of the Bahamas. He named it San Salvador.
The native people of the island came to the shore to see the ships. Columbus thought he has reached the Indies so he called the people Indians.
This land Columbus discovered would soon be called the New World by Europeans.
This New World Columbus discovered was also ready home to thousands of native people.
Columbus went on and continued his journey he landed on Hispaniola which is known today as the Dominican Republic and Haiti. He also landed on Cuba which he believed was the mainland of Asia. He also landed on the America mainland.
To prove to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella that he found land he brought back some gold, pineapples and “Indians” that he enslaved.
Columbus left approximately 43 men behind on the new land and set sail back to Spain.
Only the Nina and Pinta made it back to Spain. On the way back the Santa Maria was wrecked in a crash on Christmas Day in 1492 and never made the trip back to Spain. Christopher Columbus was not on the Santa Maria.
Columbus made three more trips back to the New World.
On Columbus second trip he brought horses introducing the animal to the New World.
On his total of four voyages to the New World Columbus discovered different Caribbean Islands, the Gulf of Mexico, South and Central America believing the entire time that he had made it to Asia.
Columbus never stepped foot on North America. He discovered islands in the Caribbean and land in South and Central America but never stepped foot on North America or what is our 50 states today.
Columbus died in 1506 in Spain. He died never realizing that did not make it to Asia.
He was buried in Spain but his body was dug up and moved several times.The current whereabouts of Columbus remains is unknown.
Celebrating Columbus Day
Colorado was the first state to celebrate Columbus Day in the early 1900s.
Columbus Day was declared a national holiday by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937.
Columbus Day was originally celebrated on October 12th. It was moved to the 2nd Monday in October in 1971.
Columbus Day is now celebrated on the 2nd Monday in October.
Not every state celebrates Columbus Day.
Columbus Day is often referred to a day to celebrate Italian culture.
Some states have a Columbus Day parade.
Columbus Day is sometimes referred to as Discovery Day, Dia de la Americas, Dia de las Hispanidad. and Dia de la Raza.