Spain was the first nation to benefit from the discovery of the New World. The Spanish conquered Mexico, Central America and South America, and their investment is these newly acquired countries began to pay off with interest. Silver and gold were discovered, and shipments of these precious metals were soon on their way back to Spain. In a few short years, Spain became the richest country in the world.
Each year, large fleets of Spanish galleons were seen voyaging back and forth between Spain and America. These treasure ships carried millions of dollars in gold, silver, platinum and precious stones. Often, hurricanes cut the voyages short and left the galleons on the ocean bottom. In many cases, everything was lost including men, galleons, and treasure. Although the men and galleons have long since disappeared, the treasure may still remain.
Two fleets sailed every year from Mexico and South America, and were accompanied by two warships. The two war galleons were called the Capitana and Almiranta, and each carried about $2,000,000 in treasure. The fleet that sailed from Mexico was called the New Spain Armada, and the other one that sailed from South America was known as the Tierra Firme Armada. Each Armada would first sail to Havana, and then on to Spain. Sometimes, both armadas would combine at Havana before leaving for Spain.
After leaving Havana, the treasure fleets would sail along the coast of Florida before turning eastward. At this point in the journey, many of the galleons were sunk by hurricanes. Today, the remains of these galleons are being found regularly, and their treasures are gradually coming up to the surface. Although many of these galleons have already been discovered, there are dozens that have not.
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