Despite other countries already being in the lead of exploring decades before, Spain began their era of exploration with Christopher Columbus in 1492. A major reason exploration was made a possibility, was the innovations in navigation that set the stage for sailing farther and longer than it was possible previously. Christopher Columbus was able to receive funding for his expedition from the monarchy of Spain: Ferdinand and Isabella. During his voyage, Columbus sailed to Cuba and Haiti, brining back to Spain products, such as tobacco.
Portugal at this time, started to allege that the lands that Christopher Columbus had been discovering were perviously claimed by Portuguese explorers. The result of this was the Treaty of Tordesillas, an agreement between Spain and Portugal. Pope Alexander VI in order to calm tensions, issued bills which stated that Spain would receive rights to all the newly discovered and undiscovered lands in the region west of the Cape Verde Islands while Portuguese expeditions were to keep to the east of the islands.
Another key point behind the reasoning of Ferdinand and Isabella funding the first expedition in 1492, was their hope of finding riches: specifically gold and silver. Between 1519 to 1521, Hernando Cortes and Francisco Pizarro took control of the gold and silver mines from Mexico and Peru. As the explorers continued to seek gold and silver they were able to venture into North America. Since the Spanish had difficulties colonizing Mexico and Latin America except for missionaries and military towns, it was easier to settle in parts of present day California, Texas and New Mexico. As of today, there is still a presence of Spanish influence in agriculture, art and music.
By Nancy Rebolledo