Studying the history of the early explorers of the South American nation of Colombia might seem boring to a child, but it doesn't have to be. Interesting facts surround these early explorers that rival even the most exciting fiction book. Sharing fun facts with kids can open their eyes to Colombia's early history and keep them engaged.
The conquistadors that invaded present-day Colombia financed their own journeys to the New World in hopes of getting rich quickly. Alonso de Ojeda was one of the first Europeans to enter Colombia territory, but Rodrigo de Bastidas was the first to stake claim to the territory for Spain. Ojeda sailed to the New World on Columbus' second journey in 1493 and Ojeda was on board with Columbus for numerous voyages. He was typically sent out to find treasure. Bastidas also sailed with Columbus during his second voyage. Bastidas was exploring in the name of Spain. Therefore, he was forced to give over one-fourth of his treasures and wealth from the New World to Spain.
The natives of Colombia were the first to cultivate corn around 1200 B.C. Complex societies existed in these native tribes. They thrived on agriculture and trade among each other. They grew potato, quinoa, corn and cotton and used these for both food sources and for trade. They were skilled at working gold and other precious gems into jewelry and making ceramic goods. These items were also used for trade.
Journeys were long and dangerous to the New World. Because travel was new to the Americas, explorers did not have thorough maps or information to guide them. Pirates were rampant during this time and ship captains were charged with keeping an eye out for them. During early journeys, captains would draw out maps to keep track of where they were, along with what they encountered. They did this by placing images or notes in the margin on the map. If there were strong winds in a particular area of the sea, they would denote this on the map for future reference. They drew images of any land they came in contact with and other information such as descriptions of the natives of the area, places where treasure was found, weather conditions and terrain.
While exploring the New World, Ojeda found several large chunks of gold. The gold Ojeda found was then sent back to Spain to prove vast treasure existed in the New World. If gold isn't enough to pique their interest, pearls and other jewels were plentiful in the New World. In fact, Ojeda journeyed with Columbus on his third journey to the New World and found natives wearing pearl necklaces.
- Library of Congress: Country Studies- Colombia
- Encyclopedia Britannica: Christopher Columbus Second and Third Voyages
- Encyclopedia Britannica: Central America- The Spanish Conquest
- Encyclopedia Britannica: Mesoamerican Civilization
- The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History: Perils of the Ocean in the Early Modern Era
- Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images