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In 1488, Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias (c. 1450-1500) became the first European mariner to round the southern tip of Africa, opening the way for a sea route from Europe to Asia. Dias’ ships rounded the perilous Cape of Good Hope and then sailed around Africa’s southernmost ...read more
Henry Hudson made his first voyage west from England in 1607, when he was hired to find a shorter route to Asia from Europe through the Arctic Ocean. After twice being turned back by ice, Hudson embarked on a third voyage–this time on behalf of the Dutch East India Company–in ...read more
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 ...read more
Born into Spanish nobility, Juan Ponce de León (1460-1521) may have accompanied Christopher Columbus on his 1493 voyage to the New World. A decade later, he was serving as governor of the eastern province of Hispaniola when he decided to explore a nearby island, which became ...read more
In search of fame and fortune, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan (c. 1480-1521) set out from Spain in 1519 with a fleet of five ships to discover a western sea route to the Spice Islands. En route he discovered what is now known as the Strait of Magellan and became the first ...read more
The explorer Christopher Columbus made four trips across the Atlantic Ocean from Spain: in 1492, 1493, 1498 and 1502. He was determined to find a direct water route west from Europe to Asia, but he never did. Instead, he accidentally stumbled upon the Americas. Though he did not ...read more