This chart is believed to have been drawn by Christopher
Columbus (Colon) on his first voyage to the "Indies". It names only two locations: "Natividad" (which means "the birth") and Montecristi, where he anchored for several days in 1493 after losing the Santa Maria on a shallow reef off the Haitian coast. It does not show La Isabela where he founded a settlement on his second voyage.
El Morro, the Montecristi promontory, was visible from many miles at sea and became a major
landmark for sailing vessels coming from Europe during the 16th and 17th
centuries, when "latitude sailing" was the common form of navigation.
Because the prevailing winds are from the Northeast, Montecristi had a protected harbor with good holding ground to anchor. The area had fresh water, fresh produce, salt and salt meat, hides (a major export item for leather for horse tack and shoes), sugar, and later, tobacco (very valuable after it was introduced to the Spanish court as a cure for coughing, and a large variety of other ailments). Tobacco had previously been brought to France in 1560, where it quickly became popular there and soon after, in England and Germany. From Europe came a wide selection of trade goods not available on the island, even loads of brick floor tiles for a church.