Chief Agueybana, a leader of the Taino people, greets Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de Leon in 1508. The Taino were native to the island now occupied by the American territory of Puerto Rico. Agueybana helped to establish friendly diplomatic relations with the Spanish visitors, even accompanying de Leon on explorations throughout the islands of Boriken (Puerto Rico) and Hispaniola.

Painting by Agustin Anavitate, National Geographic
  • On April 8, 1513, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León is thought to have become the first European to arrive in the area now known as Florida. Ponce de León was on an expedition to the Caribbean when he arrived in what he called Florida (“feast of flowers”) and claimed the land for Spain. According to a popular legend, Ponce de León discovered Florida while searching for the fountain of youth.
    Ponce de León did not find a fountain of youth, but he did initiate Spanish colonial activities in what is now the United States. By 1565, Spain had established Florida as a permanent colony, one of the first within the present limits of the U.S. In 1819, the U.S. purchased Florida from the Spanish through the Florida Purchase Treaty. Today, the culture, landscape, and language of the region still reflect Spanish influence.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    colony Noun

    people and land separated by distance or culture from the government that controls them.

    culture Noun

    learned behavior of people, including their languages, belief systems, social structures, institutions, and material goods.

    establish Verb

    to form or officially organize.

    expedition Noun

    journey with a specific purpose, such as exploration.

    explorer Noun

    person who studies unknown areas.

    initiate Verb

    to begin.

    Juan Ponce de Leon Noun

    (1460-1521) Spanish explorer of the Americas.

    landscape Noun

    the geographic features of a region.

    Encyclopedic Entry: landscape
    legend Noun

    explanation of symbols and abbreviations used on a map, also known as a key.