The 20 Most Important Events in Human History

The Discovery of America

America, the New World, or whatever you want to call it. The continent we know today as North America was, at one time, incomprehensible. To most people, that is. We know for sure that people were already living on the continent, and that it was visited by the Vikings (in the east) and the Chinese (in the west). But when we’re talking about important events, the discovery of America by the powerful European empires ranks very high.

Christopher Columbus set out to find a new route to Asia. He wanted to make money from spices but didn’t want to take the traditional routes around the horn of Africa. He was convinced that, if he sailed in the opposite direction, he’d eventually hit East Asia. He was wrong. There were two whole continents blocking his path.

He landed in the Antilles on 12 October 1492 and the world would never be the same. Not for the Spanish, who gladly accepted the treasures he found and quickly established colonies in the new world. Not for the people he encountered, way of life would forever be changed. And not even for the general populations of Europe, who would soon find themselves eating foods from the new world (such as potatoes and tomatoes).

While most of the world found themselves in a rush to colonize these new lands, Columbus continued to try to reach the spice islands. He made three more voyages and traveled as far as Jamaica before he died in 1506.

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