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On Friday, 12 October 1492, land was sighted from the Spanish caravel "Pinta" at 2.00 a.m. by a sailor whose name is unknown. It was the Bahamas island of Guanahani, the name in the native language at the time (it is still called that today), which Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) named San Salvador. To date, this is considered the day of the discovery of America or the New World. But someone else had already set foot on the American continent 500 years before Columbus. Around the year 1000, the Icelandic Viking Leif Eriksson (son of the Greenland discoverer Erik the Red) sailed south from Greenland and reached the American coast. He named the area "Vinland". Whether the name actually means Vinland "wine country" is not clearly certain; it could also have meant "pasture" or "grassland" or "meadow". There have been many attempts to identify the place precisely, one version naming the island of Manhattan at the site of New York, another a site near the present-day city of Boston in the state of Massachusetts.

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