Early Explorers

Vasco Da Gama
Portuguese explorer. In 1497-1498 he led the first naval expedition from Europe to sail to India, opening an important commercial sea route.
Marco Polo
a Venetian merchant who traveled from Europe to Asia in the 1200s.
Bartolmeu Dias
Portugues; 1st European to sail around the tip of Africa, opened way to India, and was on the voyage that led to the discovery of Brazil.
Christopher Columbus
Italian navigator who discovered the New World in the service of Spain while looking for a route to China (1451-1506)
Vasco de Balboa
Spanish explorer who discovered the Pacific Ocean (1475-1519)
Ferdinand Magellan
Portuguese-born navigator. Hired by Spain to sail to the Indies in 1519. One of his ships returned to Spain (1522), thereby completing the first circumnavigation of the globe.
Hernando Cortes
Spanish conquistador who defeated the Aztecs and conquered Mexico (1485-1547).
Francisco Pizarro
Spanish explorer who conquered the Incas in what is now Peru and founded the city of Lima (1475-1541).
Francisco Coronado
A Spanish soldier and commander; he was searching for the legendary Seven Cities of Gold; explored much of what is now the southwestern United States.
Amerigo Vespucci
The Italian sailor who corrected Columbus's mistake, acknowledging the coasts of America as a new world. America is named after him.
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).
Sir Francis Drake
English explorer and admiral who was the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe and who helped to defeat the Spanish Armada (1540-1596). He is one of England's most famous sea dogs.
Hernando de Soto
This Spanish conquistador and his men were the first Europeans to see the Mississippi River. They did not find gold but claimed much of the Southeast United States for Spain.
Henry Hudson
Discovered what today is known as the Hudson River. Sailed for the Dutch even though he was originally from England. He was looking for a northwest passage through North America.1516-1611
Giovanni Verrazano
Italian sea captain who sailed for France in search of a Northwest Passage in 1524.
Ponce de Leon
This Spanish explorer was looking for the fountain of youth, but he never found it. He claimed what is now the state of Florida for Spain.
Jacques Cartier
French explorer who searched for gold in North America. He was the first European to reach the inland of what is now Canada.