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Christopher Columbus: Discover of the New World

It was the famous Italian explorer, Christopher Columbus, in an expedition backed by the King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, who first set foot on the Island of Guanahani–or San Salvador as it is know today–one of the 700 plus islands that make up the archipelago, known today as the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.

The date was October 12th, 1492. The Spaniards named these islands the Bajar Mar, or shallow seas — this is where the word Bahamas comes from.Columbus, in search of gold, spices and treasure, was searching for a new route to reach India–he had failed in his original quest, but had achieved something greater when he brought Western Civilization to the New World.

When Columbus discovered the islands, he found Lucayans and called them Indians. They were in fact related to the neo-Indian Arawaks in the larger Caribbean Islands, who had originally come from the South American mainland. Being peaceful they fled northwards away from the warlike Caribs. Historians speculate that they arrived in Bahamas between 300-500 AD, settling from Cuba and Hispaniola.

The Lucayans, or Arawaks, being relatively primitive had no written language, but only a spoken one. Though the Arawaks did little for modern ideas (and not they did not have an advanced civilization) we do credit them with adding a few popular words to our language such as ‘barbecue’, according to some scholars.