Sooner or later, one of the exploring countries of Europe was bound to find the north American Continent. The fact that it was the Spaniards rather than the English or the French doesn't seem to really have made that much difference considering how all 3 treated the natives where ever they landed. The Spanish were in search of gold, namely the seven cities of gold and a passage to the Orient that was shorter than the one in use at the time. Columbus was sure that not only was the earth round, but that it could be circumnavigated, which it eventually was, but not by him. The first settlement in this "discovered" land was Hispaniola, and was set up as a plantation using the natives as slave labor. Not long after this Spain began the search in earnest for the fabled 7 cities of gold and found the Incas instead. They slaughtered them by the thousands and removed tons of gold to Spain. They also wiped out many of the natives by giving them diseases they had no immunity for, that were common in Europe. It was not until the early 1500's that the English tried to establish a colony on North America, it disappeared over the winter and was re-established in Jamestown in 1645. The French in the mean time not to be left out took control of vast territories in the area now known as Louisiana and in eastern Canada. 3 wars were fought to end the conflict and of course we bought the Louisiana territory from France. At that time Mexico as it is today, was a Spanish colony as was Texas and California. Yet another war was fought to free Texas from the Spanish and they seceded California later when they could not stop the settlers from the east. One could say they are well on the road to taking it back. So the importance is only that Columbus was the first one that got here, it just as easily could have been a host of others as is often the case in history, more than one person has the idea.