West Indies: Exploration to 1525

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Map Code: Ax00885

After his discovery in 1492 of what he believed to his dying day to be Asia, Columbus completed three further voyages to the Caribbean, establishing the Spanish hub for future ventures at Santo Domingo on Hispaniola, visiting most of the major islands, exploring the coast of Central America and discovering the mouth of the Orinoco. By Columbus’s death in 1506, both Vespucci and Bastidas had explored the Caribbean coastline of South America, followed by De Ojeda in 1509. De Leon made landing in Florida, and in 1513, Nunez De Balboa became the first European to sight the Pacific Ocean after crossing the Isthmus of Panama. In 1517, Cordoba landed in Yucatan in search of slaves; he also found gold. This quickly led to a heavily armed follow-up from Hernan Cortes in 1519, who would rapidly conquer and loot the Aztec Empire, as Alvarado would the Maya a few years later.

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