Explorers of the Americas

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Pedro Menendez de Aviles

Spanish explorer in 1565; Governor of Spanish Florida who set up St. Augustine, the oldest permanent settlement in America

Vasco Balboa

Spanish explorer, governor, and conquistador. He is best known for having crossed the Isthmus of Panama to the Pacific Ocean in 1513, becoming the first European to lead an expedition to have seen or reached the Pacific from the New World.

Ibn Battuta

Moroccan Muslim scholar, the most widely traveled individual of his time. He wrote a detailed account of his visits to Islamic lands from China to Spain and the western Sudan. Served as a judge (quadi).

Vitus Bering

Danish explorer who explored the northern Pacific Ocean for the Russians and discovered the Bering Strait (1681-1741)

Saint Brendan

The Irish monk who could have possibly reached the shores of North America in a little boat.

Cabeza de Vaca

Spanish explorer - {one of the four surviving members of Navaez's expedition} with enslaved African Esteban wandered across Texas and New Mexico before reaching New Spain in 1536.

John Cabot

Italian explorer who led the English expedition in 1497 that discovered the mainland of North America and explored the coast from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland (ca. 1450-1498)

Pedro Cabral

Claimed Brazil for Portugal n 1500. He had intended to follow Da Gama but was blown off course.

Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo

Explored the California coast in 1542 but failed to find San Francisco Bay or anything of interest.

Jacques Cartier

French explorer who explored the St. Lawrence river and laid claim to the region for France (1491-1557)

Samuel de Champlain

French explorer in Nova Scotia who established a settlement on the site of modern Quebec (1567-1635) Father of New France

Christopher Columbus

Genoese mariner/ Italian navigator who discovered the New World in the service of Spain while looking for a route to China (1451-1506),who in the service of Spain led expeditions across the Atlantic, reestablishing contact between the peoples of the Americas and the Old World and opening the way to Spanish conquest and colonization.

James Cook

English navigator who claimed the east coast of Australia for Britain and discovered several Pacific islands, especially Hawai'i (1728-1779)

Francisco Coronado

A Spanish soldier and commander; in 1540, he led an expedition north from Mexico into Arizona; he was searching for the legendary Seven Cities of Gold, but only found Adobe pueblos.

Hernan Cortes

Spanish conquistador who defeated the Aztecs and conquered Mexico (1485-1547)

Vasco da Gama

A Portugese sailor who was the first European to sail around southern Africa to the Indian Ocean

Robert de LaSalle

French explorer who claimed the Great Lakes and reached the mouth of the Mississippi River; Louisiana Purchase area.

Ponce de Leon

Explored Florida, but never found the Fountain of Youth. Became Governor of Puerto Rico.

Hernando de Soto

Spanish Conquistador; explored in 1540's from Florida west to the Mississippi with six hundred men in search of gold; discovered the Mississippi, a vital North American river.

Bartholemeu Dias

Sailed to the southern tip of Africa, Cape of Good Hope.

Sir Francis Drake

First Englishman to circumnavigate on his ship The Golden Hind; British Sea Dog connected with the defeat of the Spanish Armada

Leif Ericsson

Viking explorer, 1000 A.D, was Eric the Red's son. He was probably the first European to set foot on North America. He founded a Viking colony called Vineland in North America.

Bjarni Herjulfsson

Viking explorer who most likely was the first to sight North America, but did not land. Gave directions and boat to Leif.

Henry Hudson

1409 Englishman in Dutch service. Sailed up the Hudson River and claimed the area for the Netherlands

Ferdinand Magellan

Portuguese explorer sailing for Spain, his crew was the first to circumnavigate the globe. Killed in the Phillippines, but one ship made it back.

Francisco Pizarro

Spanish conquistador who conquered the Incas in what is now Peru and founded the city of Lima (1475-1541)

Marco Polo

Venetian merchant and traveler who in the 13th century and served Kublai Khan (1254-1324). His accounts of his travels to China offered Europeans a firsthand view of Asian lands and stimulated interest in Asian trade.

Sir Walter Raleigh

An English adventurer and writer, who was prominent at the court of Queen Elizabeth I, and became an explorer of the Americas. In 1585, Raleigh sponsored the first English colony in America on Roanoke Island in present-day North Carolina. It failed and is known as The Lost Colony.

Father Junipero Serra

Franciscan friar who established 21 missions along the coast of California in 1769.

Giovanni da Verrazano

Italian mariner, sent by the French king to probe the eastern seaboard in 1524.

Amerigo Vespucci

Florentine navigator who explored the coast of South America; first to recognize Americas as "The New World"; Waldseemuller's map named the new world for him.

Zheng He

An imperial eunuch and Muslim, admiral entrusted by the Ming emperor with a series of state voyages that took his gigantic ships through the Indian Ocean, from Southeast Asia to Africa.

Afonso de Albuquerque

Portuguese naval/military leader who ended Muslim control of the Indian Ocean trade--took Goa, Moluccas, and held much of SE under Portuguese control

Matteo Ricci

Italian Jesuit who wanted to convert China to Christianity during the Ming dynasty

Juan de Bermúdez

was a Spanish navigator of the 16th century. In 1505, while sailing back to Spain from a provisioning voyage to Hispaniola in the ship La Garça (or Garza), he discovered Bermuda, In 1515 he returned to Bermuda, landing a dozen pigs and sows for any unlucky mariners who might later be castaway there. Bermúdez died in 1570.

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