Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Greetings from "Holy Sunday"

which is English for Santo Domingo (in the Domican Republic)! Why does it sounds so much better in Spanish?

Since I haven't had to work on this President's Day, I decided to use the time to do a little research on Columbus who founded Santo Domingo -- the oldest European city in the Americas.  It's really embarrassing how little I know about Columbus and I'm sure you all know a lot more.   Now you can prove it to yourselves by answering the following questions.  The answers are at the bottom but no cheating!

1.  How many voyages did Columbus make to the New World?

2.  Did his contemporaries in science believe the prevailing view that the earth was flat?

3.  Where did he first make landfall in the New World?

4.  What was the name of his first settlement he founded and what happened to the crew members he left there?

5.  Which are some of the islands Columbus named that still retain essentially these names today?

6. What major modern-day city did he found?

7. Did he ever set foot in North America, and if so where?

8. What happened to the Pinta, the Nina and the Santa Maria?

9. Which islands did he claim were China and Japan when he reported back to the Spanish Throne?

10.  Did these voyages pay for themselves?

11. What disease did Columbus' crew likely bring back to Europe from the New World?

12. Which of the products that Columbus introduced to Europe had the biggest economic impact?

13. Did Columbus ever know that he had not reached Asia and that he had reached the New World instead?

14.  What is Columbus' legacy?

15.  Where did Columbus die and where are his remains?


1. Four

2. Many scientists knew that the earth had a curvature but they had little idea as to its circumference.

3. At an island he named San Salvador, which is generally thought to be in the Bahamas.

4.  La Navidad in today's Haiti.  Thirty-nine crew members were left there and all were killed. 

5.  Some of the better know islands he named are Dominica, Montserrat, Marie-Galante, Antigua, Nevis, St. Kitts, Tabago, Saba, St. Martin, St. Croix, Virgin Gorda and Tortola.

6. Santo Domingo, the oldest city in the Americas, founded in 1496.  It's population now exceeds 2 million.

7. No, but he did reach Central America on his fourth voyage.

8. The Santa Maria ran aground and was completely destroyed.  The Pinta disappeared in a strong wind in November 1492 but was later found.  Columbus returned to Spain on the Nina and the Pinta returned soon thereafter. 

9. He thought that the Bahamanian island that he named San Salvador was Japan and that Cuba was China.

10.  Not in the short run?

11.  Syphilis

12. Probably tobacco

13. No.

14. Despite what many of us learned in school, Columbus wasn't really the first person to discover America. His real legacy was that he undertook 4 voyages to the Americas, that he established settlements and that many other Europeans followed (for good or ill).

15. Columbus died in Valladolid, Spain at age 55, apparently of a heart attack.  He was initially buried in Valladolid, but his remains have been exhumed and reburied a couple of times.  The current location is in dispute, but is probably either Santo Domingo, Seville or possibly Havana.  The  authorities in Santo Domingo refuse to let DNA samples be taken on what are claimed to be his remains.






I had intended to provide more information on Santo Domingo but it has gotten late and I have gotten lazy.  However you may find the following wikipedia link on Santo Domingo interesting.


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