ADVANTAGES

Whether you imagine Columbus in the role of hero or villain, there's no denying his importance. Columbus opened the Atlantic to European explorers, adventures, merchants, and the famous conquistadores. And the process that Columbus set in motion led to the foundation of the United States about three hundred years after Columbus sailed the Ocean Blue.

The Spanish were able to colonize much of South and Central America, but the territory that later became the United States stood on the far periphery of Spain's New World empire. Only in the West did the Spanish have a serious presence in territory that's now the United States, and Spanish penetration of California and New Mexico came only in the 17th and 18th centuries.

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