Years before the Spanish colonizer arrived in the Caribbean, Viking and Chinese explorers had already traveled to the continent.
On a day like today, but in 1492, the Spanish colonizer Christopher Columbus anchored on the Caribbean island of Guanahani, believing he had reached the Indies Orientals, their original destination.
This fact was baptized as the ‘discovery of America’, since from that moment on countries such as Spain, England, Portugal or France began a series of expeditions in the region that culminated in the total colonization of the continent.
Columbus can be credited with starting European plunder in the Americas, but he was not the first foreigner to visit the continent: who are the others? discoverers’?
1. The first ‘visitors’
Before Columbus reached the continent, the first settlers traveled to America more than 18,000 years ago, through the Bering Strait, an extensive region of land between Asia and North America, which included parts of Russia.
Those first communities crossed walking more than 1,000 kilometers of the strait and, although today the territory it is submerged under the ocean, it was a key piece for the emergence of the first settlements in the region.
2. The Viking Expedition
Around the year 1000, Viking explorer Leif Erikson sailed from Greenland and anchored his ship around Cape Cod in Massachusetts (USA), becoming the first recognized European to set foot on the American continent.
— Pueblos Originarios (@pue_originarios) October 8, 2022
One version of the story assures that the navigator was unaware where he would arrive, while another affirms that a sailor told Erikson about a distant land to which he had traveled 14 years before and that the Viking, overwhelmed by curiosity, decided to set sail with a crew of 35 men to find such a mysterious destiny.
After exploring the region a bit, Eriksson returned to his homeland and years later became the Governor of Greenland
3. China’s mission
In the book ‘1421: the year China discovered the world’, the British historian Gavin Menzies assures that a fleet of 800 men arrived in America before Columbus.
The crew commanded by the captain, Zheng He, set sail in 1421 from China, dividing into different exploration groups. One of them, led by Captain Hong Bao, arrived in Patagonia, while another, led by Captain Zhou Man, followed the route from Bao to Argentina and from there it went up through Chile to Central America, the Caribbean and North America.
I agree with Menzies, all these trips took at least 10 years, being only registered in some maps of the time.
El cuarto viaje iniciado en 1412 se dirigió a África. Exploró Arabia y siguió adelante para establecer contacto con reinos africanos. Si bien los chinos comerciaban con esas regiones. Zheng He estableció embajadas, firmó acuerdos y confeccionó los primeros mapas de la zona pic.twitter.com/Oi9VlmjsuP
— Nacho Montes de Oca (@nachomdeo) October 12, 2019
Different experts have disqualified the investigations of the British historian for lack of sources reliable.
However, little is known about these Viking and Chinese adventures in the region. The voyage of Columbus, which undoubtedly marked a before and after in the American continent, is the one that has been given the most relevance, although in recent years in some countries the consequences of the invasion and domination that this expedition meant, displacing the colonizer from the privileged place in which it was held.
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