CARIBBEAN / Conquest and Colonization: The Creation of Caribbean Societies
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The arrival of western civilization, as expressed at the time by the recently unified Spanish monarchy, constituted a radical transformation for the lives of millions of people who lived in the Americas. Tainos and Caribes were the peoples who inhabited the islands visited by the three ships led by the explorer Christopher Columbus in search of an alternate route to India to increase trade for the Spanish crown. The first encounter between the Europeans and the "Indians" occurred on the island of Guanahani in the archipelago of the Bahamas. The inhabitants received the strangers with gifts and curiosity. Columbus responded with courtesy and anxiously sought evidence of the great treasures he expected to find in the Far East. He named the island San Salvador and went on his way. Thus began the European expansionist movement to the "New World."

During the four voyages Columbus made to what the Europeans called the Caribbean, he sailed along the coasts of its islands and Central and South America. In the name of the Catholic kings of Castile and Aragon and the Catholic Church, he took possession of the land and gave it new names. Before returning from his first voyage, Columbus established Fort Navidad on Hispaniola with a complement of 30 men, with the mission of establishing trade agreements with the Tainos, the native inhabitants of the island. But when he returned the following year, he found the fort destroyed and the men dead. Despite that, he established the first base for the Spanish conquest and colonization of the Caribbean islands and the American continents on the same island, which was then called Haiti and was the center of the Taino culture in the Antilles.

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