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Zheng He

Chinese admiral & explorer of the 1400s who made China a great sea power.

Prince Henry the Navigator

Portuguese Prince who gathered experts in shipbuilding, navigation, & mapmaking in order to improve his country's Navy. Increased Exploration.

Treaty of Tordesillas (1494)

Treaty between Spain and Portugal that divided The New World between them. The Catholic nations had asked the Pope to settle their dispute.

The New World

North & South America. First 'discovered' by Christopher Columbus.

West Indies

Islands of the Caribbean where Columbus first landed. Mistaken for the East Indies (Columbus' original destination).

East Indies

Islands East of India and South of China. Source of valuable spices. European nations began exploring in order to find a new route to these Islands.

Christopher Columbus (1492)

Italian Explorer who sailed for Spain. Convinced King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella to pay for a voyage west across the Atlantic Ocean to the East Indies. "Discovered" The New World, but believed he had made it to the East Indies.

Columbian Exchange

Global Exchange of people, plants, animals, ideas and diseases that began when Columbus 'discovered' The New World. Diseases kill Native Americans.

Vasco da Gama

Portuguese Explorer. First to sail around Africa to India.


Explorer looking for a route to the East Indies. First to Circumnavigate the Globe (go all the way around the Earth). Claimed the Philippines for Spain.


Political Relationship between a strong 'Mother Country' and its Colony.


Spanish 'Conquerors' (military leaders) who went to The New World. Cortez defeated the Aztec Empire in Mexico. Pizarro defeated the Incan Empire in Peru.

Encomienda System

Spanish Government gave Spaniards land and the right to use Native Americans and later Africans as slave labor on Plantations. Similar to Feudalism.


Economic Relationship between a 'Mother Country' and its Colony. Colony helps 'Mother Country' make money by providing free Raw Materials and buying Finished Goods (a Market).

Triangular Trade

Trading System between Europe, Africa & The New World. Europe made money by exploiting the people and resources of Africa and The New World.

The Middle Passage

The voyage from Africa to the Americas on slave ships. Horrible conditions. Many Africans died before ever arriving in The New World to become slaves.

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