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Indies:see East IndiesEast Indies,
name formerly used for the Malay Archipelago, but also more restrictively for Indonesia and more widely to include SE Asia. It once referred chiefly to India.
..... Click the link for more information. ; West IndiesWest Indies,
archipelago, between North and South America, curving c.2,500 mi (4,020 km) from Florida to the coast of Venezuela and separating the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico from the Atlantic Ocean.
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a geographic term prevalent in Western Europe in the 14th century under the influence of the Book of Marco Polo, where the names “Great India” and “India” (signifying the peninsula of Hindustan with the Indo-Gangetic Plain), “Small India” (Indochina), and “Middle India” (Ethiopia) are found. Thus, in the 14th and 15th centuries the lands of South and Southeast Asia and a part of East Africa were known as the Indies. After the discovery by Columbus in 1492 of the Antilles, it was mistakenly believed that he had come upon one of the Indies. Columbus himself used the term “Indias” for the first time on Feb. 14, 1493, in referring to the newly discovered transatlantic lands, and he called their inhabitants Indians (indios). In official documents the term was first used in instructions from the throne to Columbus on May 29, 1493. In the 16th century in European literature the terms “East Indies” and “West Indies” established themselves. In official Spanish documents the term “Indies,” as applied to Spain’s American possessions, was used until the end of the War of Independence of the Spanish Colonies in America (1810-26).
REFERENCESKniga Marko Polo. Moscow, 1955. (Translated from Old French.)
Puteshestviia Kh. Kolumba: Dnevniki, Pis’ma, Dokumenty. Moscow, 1961. (Translated from Spanish.)
I. P. MAGIDOVICH