History of the U.S.A.
I — Indians, Vikings and Columbus
Although the history of the United States began when the English started forming their first colonies in North America, the history of the continent is much longer and richer. About 15.000 years ago, the territory of what is now Canada and the U.S.A. was colonized by Asian settlers, who had crossed today’s Bering’s Strait. These people are nowadays known as “Native Americans” or just simply “Indians.” 500 years ago, the Indian population contained about 10 million inhabitants, nowadays the number is about two or three million.
According to tradition, the first Europeans who landed in the New World were Vikings (Norsemen) — the nation of warriors, sailors and shipmakers that settled Northern Europe about 1.000 years ago. At first they sailed along the European coast and attacked other nations, later a group of Vikings led by Eric the Red discovered Greenland and settled there. One day, when Eric’s son named Leif Ericsson wanted to visit his father, a strong gale blew his ship off the course and the ship’s crew landed in the country that had never been seen before. Because they saw many vineyards, where native inhabitants grew vine-grapes, the Vikings named the land Vineland (current New Foundland). But even though this legend was truthful, it wouldn’t diminish the role of Christopher Columbus.
Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa, Italy. Although his parents were successful clothmakers and merchants , Christopher didn’t follow the career of his predecessors . He moved to Portugal and lived in the port town of Lisbon with his brother Bartholomew, who owned a shop that sold navigation tools, maps and charts. Christopher had plenty of time to study them and they, as well as near shipyards making caravels (which were much faster than other ships), made him believe there could be easier route to the “spiceland” in Asia. At first he asked the Portuguese king to give him money necessary for the journey, but the king refused. Columbus moved to Spain and asked Isabelle, the Spanish queen. Within next six years, Columbus received enough money to buy three ships (Santa Maria, Niña and Pinta) and everything he needed, and he set out on a dangerous trip to an unknown part of the Earth. On October 12, 1492, Columbus woke up with the cry of “Tierra, tierra!” He landed in Holy Savior, one island of the Bahamas. As a proof he was in Asia (he believed the land he stepped onto was India), he brought a parrot, six natives, gold and an alligator.