Amerigo Vespucci was an Italian-born merchant and explorer who took part in early voyages to the New World on behalf of Spain around the late 15th century. By that time, the Vikings had established settlements in present-day North America as early as 1,000 A.D. and Christopher Columbus had already “discovered” several Caribbean and Central American islands, yet it’s Vespucci’s name that prevailed. Early accounts of Vespucci’s voyages, now believed to have been forgeries, had quickly spread throughout Europe. In 1507, using these letters as his guide, a German cartographer created a new map, naming the territory now known as South America in Vespucci’s honor. For the first time, the word “America” was in print.