Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) was an Italian explorer and navigator who completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean, opening the way for European exploration and colonization of the Americas. His expeditions, sponsored by the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, were the first European contact with the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. He went to sea at a young age and travelled widely, as far north as the British Isles and as far south as what is now Ghana. Columbus's voyages are considered some of the most important events in world history, kickstarting modern globalism and resulting in major demographic, commercial, economic, social, and political changes. These explorations resulted in the permanent contact between the two hemispheres.