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Map of the first voyage of Columbus (1492)


Columbus first landed among the Arawakan-speaking Taino in the southeast Bahamas, called the Lucayos (Leeward Islets) by the Spanish. Columbus' Journal for Oct. 13, 1492 notes "To the first island I gave the name of the blessed Saviour  [San Salvador]... But the Indians call it Guanahaní..." (Taino for "iguana").

Leaving Guanahaní on October 15 with native guides aboard, the Spanish ships passed Rum Cay which they named Santa Maria de la Concepción. The next four days (Oct.16-19) were spent at Fernandina, where Columbus witnessed the trading skills of the native Taino. A short distance east was the island called Samoet (Isabella, now Crooked Island), where the Spaniards anchored from October 20-24. After briefly sailing west, on Oct. 25-26 they ran into shoals (the Islas de Arena), and turned south. On Oct. 27, Cuba (Juana) was sighted and the Spaniards spent the next five weeks (Oct.28-Nov.5) along its northeast coast.

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[Fig.1: Map of Columbus' route in the Antilles during the first voyage, 1492 (after Morison 1942).]

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