Today is Columbus Day (the first Monday after October 12th). Many countries in the New World and elsewhere celebrate the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas, which happened on October 12, 1492, as an official holiday. The landing is celebrated as Columbus Day in the United States, as Día de la Raza in many countries in Latin America, as Discovery Day in the Bahamas, as Día de la Hispanidad and Fiesta Nacional in Spain, as Día del Respeto a la Diversidad Cultural (Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity) in Argentina, and as Día de las Américas (Day of the Americas) in Belize and Uruguay.
I believe the successful measure of explorers like Lief Ericson and Christopher Columbus is the start of successful and lasting permanent colonization.
Columbus founded La Navidad in what is present day Haiti on his first voyage. After it’s destruction by the indigenous Taino people, the town of Isabella was begun in 1493, on his second voyage.
In 1496 his brother, Bartholomew, founded Santo Domingo. By 1500, despite a high death rate, there were between 300 and 1000 Spanish settled in the area. The local Taíno people continue to resist; refusing to plant crops and abandoning their Spanish-occupied villages. Their rebellion progressed from disobedience to violence. Eventually European diseases, slavery, and ritual infanticide and suicide (meant to avoid adult and infantile enslavement) eradicated most of the Taíno people.
In 1502, 2500 more Spanish settlers arrived. By 1508 there were 10,000 Spaniards living in 15 new settlement. It has been estimated that in the 16th century about 240,000 Spaniards emigrated to America, and in the 17th century about 500,000, predominantly to Mexico and Ecuador.
Spain colonization was also followed by France, Britain, Netherlands, Portugal and other nations.
Lief Ericson did land in North America but none of the follow up attempts at colonization succeeded. The successful colonies in Greenland and Iceland were set up by other Norsemen.
From the 14th to the early 18th century, the population in Spain was between 6 and 9 million.
In 1508, the ten thousand Spaniards represented at least 0.1% of the population.
In 1599, the 240,000 Spaniards represented about 2.5% of the population.
An American Columbus for the space age should generate space colonies with a population of 300,000 people within about 25 years of the start of space colonization. Within 100 years, the space colonies of the US should be over 10 million.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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