Of the many islands in general that are between the southern Mainland and these islands of Cubagua and Margarita to the island of San Juan, which the Indians call Boriquen, and from there to the norther side or band and the province of Bimini and Florida, briefly told.

Translated by Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert

The reader should remember that I have said elsewhere that when the Admiral Don Christopher Columbus came on his second voyage to these parts in the year 1493, he discovered La Désiderade, Marie Galante and Guadeloupe, and other islands in that region, which later became better known and their perimeters explored more particularly because of the wars waged between the Christians and the Carib Indians of these islands. Here I will only gloss over them, just enough to offer a particular and general record of them: particular in that I name them, and general in that I tell where they are located. But since they are not inhabited by Christians, and in none of them is there a large number of Indians, but only a few, and those mostly of the rebels who fled to these islands as refuge in fear of the Christians, I don’t offer as long and particular a record as would be done or known if they had been populated and pacified, and the proceeds and particularities of these islands were more minutely known and understood, except that the majority of them are empty and without people. Thus, starting with the island of Cubagua, as I mentioned above, there is the island of Margarita, and moving northward you will find Los Testigos, and La Graciosa, Barbados, Saint Lucia, Martinique, Dominica, La Désiderade, and Marie Galante, and The Saints, and Guadeloupe, and Antigua and Barbuda, and Aguja and Saint Croix and Sombrero and St. Kitts, and Anegada and The Virgin Islands, and Boriquen, which is the island of San Juan. All of them across a hundred and sixty leagues, a bit more or less, from the south to the north. It is true that some of these islands are more to the east than others; but I include them all as they are within that distance in leagues from San Juan. The one most northerly, at seventeen and a half degrees from the equinoctial line, is the one called Anegada, from which one turns west to the island of San Juan, thirty-five leagues away, a bit more or less. And halfway down this stretch there are the Virgin Islands; and from the island of Boriquen, moving fifty leagues northwest, there are the reefs of Turks Bank, and following the same direction, twenty-five leagues beyond the reefs, there is the Grand Turk Island, and further ahead the island of Mayaguana, and beyond that is Acklins Island, and further on another one called Mayaguón, and then one known as Rum Cay, and following that are the islands of Little Inagua and the White Cays, and further ahead the island called Cat Island and moving on ahead another named Eleuthera, and beyond this island there is Grand Abaco, surrounded by great reefs, and to its northwest, almost ten leagues to the west, is the island of Grand Bahama, from which, continuing another eleven leagues to the West, is the land of Bimini and the one they called Florida, moving north along the Mainland coast.

This route I have described covers a distance of three-hundred and fifty leagues, a bit more or less, from the island of San Juan to Florida. It is true that in traveling in the direction of one of the islands I have mentioned we wouldn’t follow the arc I have described, moving from island to island, as they were named above; but what I have said is sufficient to remember them and know where they are located, which is from eighteen degrees at the island of San Juan to twenty-eight degrees at Grand Abaco, which is the island furthest to the north of all I have mentioned. And the others I mentioned first and are between the coast of Cubagua to San Juan or Boriquen, are located from ten degrees, the location of the Cumaná River in the Mainland and part of the south, to eighteen degrees, where Boriquen is located, which is the island of San Juan, as I have said.

And this concludes this first part of the General and Natural History of the Indies in these nineteen books.[1]

[1] In the Seville edition could be read, after these words, Oviedo’s reference to the book that finished that edition: “The following, which is number twenty, deals with the misfortunes and shipwrecks that have taken place in the seas of these Indies. And this book twenty which will be the last one here, will later be moved to the end of the third part of this Natural History, for which there is no final clean copy yet, and will be the last one of these histories. But until all three parts have been published, it will be placed here as the conclusion to this first part. As soon as the writing of the rest has been concluded, it will be placed with what has been added to these matters, as related to the book of Misfortunes and Shipwrecks.