Christopher Columbus was an Italian explorer, navigator, and colonist. Born in the Republic of Genoa, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain. Those voyages, and his efforts to establish settlements on the island of Hispaniola, initiated the permanent European colonization of the Americas.
At a time when European kingdoms were beginning to establish new trade routes and colonies, motivated by imperialism and economic competition, Columbus proposed to reach the East Indies by sailing westward. This eventually received the support of the Spanish Crown, which saw a chance to enter the spice trade with Asia through this new route. During his first voyage in 1492, he reached the New World instead of arriving in Japan as he had intended, landing on an island in the Bahamas archipelago that he named San Salvador. Over the course of three more voyages, he visited the Greater and Lesser Antilles, as well as the Caribbean coast of Venezuela and Central America, claiming all of it for the Crown of Castile.