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Christopher Columbus (Italian: Cristoforo Colombo, Spanish: Cristóbal Colón)was a Genoese explorer in the service of the Kingdom of Spain. In 1492, he initiated long term contact between the Old World and the New World by inadvertently discovering the Americas while attempting to sail to East Asia. For this he was awarded the title Admiral of the Ocean Seas and large amounts of money and land from the Spanish crown. His second voyage in 1493 was the beginning of Spain's colonization of the Americas. In total, Columbus made four voyages and was personally responsible for creating the Encomienda system that would subjugate native populations. For years after his discovery he continued to insist that he sailed to Asia rather than to a whole new continent. It is a matter of controversy whether he sincerely believed this or was just trying to defend his honor. Many geographic locations are named after him, including Columbus, Ohio, Columbia, Missouri, Columbus, Georgia, and the nation of Colombia.

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