Lists of All Kinds

Explorers Who Discovered The New World

Pytheas (380 – c. 310 BC) – Greek explorer. First to circumnavigate Great Britain and to explore Germany. Reached Thule, most commonly thought to be the Shetland Islands or Iceland.

Brendan the Navigator (c. 484 – c. 577) – Irish monk, allegedly found Iceland and America in the 6th century.

Erik the Red (950 – 1003) – Norwegian Viking explorer. After being cast out from Iceland, he sailed to Greenland and settled there.

Leif Ericson (980 – 1020) – Icelandic explorer. Believed to have been the first European to land in North America.

Marco Polo (1254 – 1324) – Venetian explorer.

João Fernandez Lavrador (1445? – 1501) – Portuguese explorer. First European reaching Labrador/Newfoundland. Fernandez charted the coasts of Southwestern Greenland and of adjacent Northeastern North America around 1498. In 1501, Fernandez set sail again in discovery of lands and was never heard from again.

John Cabot (c. 1450 – 1499) – Italian explorer for England. Discovered Newfoundland and claimed it for the Kingdom of England.

Bartolomeu Dias (c. 1450 – 1500) – Portuguese explorer. He sailed from Portugal and reached the Cape of Good Hope.

Christopher Columbus (1451 – 1506) – Genoese explorer for Spain. Sailed in 1492 and discovered the “New World” of the Americas.

Amerigo Vespucci (c. 1454 – 1512) – Italian explorer for Spain. Sailed in 1499 and 1502. He explored the east coast of South America.

Juan Ponce de León (c. 1460 – 1521) – Spanish explorer. He explored Florida while attempting to locate a Fountain of Youth.  

Pedro Álvares Cabral (c. 1467 – c. 1520) – Portuguese explorer, generally regarded as the European discoverer of Brazil.

Vasco da Gama (c. 1469 – 1524) – Portuguese explorer. The first European to sail from Europe to India by rounding the Cape of Good Hope.

Vasco Núñez de Balboa (c. 1475 – 1519) – Spanish explorer. The first European to cross the Isthmus of Panama and view the Pacific ocean from American shores.

Francisco Pizarro (c. 1475 – 1541) – Spanish explorer. Conquered the Inca Empire.

Juan Sebastián Elcano (1476 – 1526) – Spanish explorer. Completed the first circumnavigation of the globe in a single expedition after its captain, Magellan, was killed.

Ferdinand Magellan (1480 – 1521) – Portuguese explorer for Spain. Initiated the first circumnavigation of the globe in a single expedition. Sailed through Strait of Magellan and named Pacific Ocean. Died in the Philippines after claiming them for Spain.

Giovanni da Verrazzano (c. 1485 – 1528) – Italian explorer for France. Explored the northeast coast of America, from about present day South Carolina to Newfoundland.

Hernán Cortés (1485 – 1545) – Spanish explorer. Conquered the Aztec Empire for Spain.

Jacques Cartier (1491 – 1557) – French explorer. Discovered Canada.

Hernando de Soto (c. 1496 – 1542) – Spanish explorer. Explored Florida, mainly northwest Florida, and discovered the Mississippi River.

Francisco Vásquez de Coronado (c. 1510 – 1554) – Spanish explorer. Searched for the Seven Cities of Gold and discovered the Grand Canyon in the process.

Francisco de Orellana (1511-1546) – Spanish explorer in 1541-42 sails the length of the Amazon River.

Sir Francis Drake (c. 1540 – 1596) – English explorer. The first English captain to sail around the world and survive.

Henry Hudson (1570 – 1611) – English explorer. Explored much of the North Atlantic, including Labrador, the coast of Greenland, and Hudson Bay. Presumed dead in a 1611 mutiny of his own crew.

Samuel de Champlain (1575 – 1635) French. “Father of New France”

Abel Tasman (1603 – 1659) – Dutch explorer. Discovered New Zealand and Tasmania.

Vitus Bering (1681 – 1741) – Danish explorer. Explored the Siberian Far East and Alaska and claimed it for Russia.

James Cook (1728 – 1779) – British naval captain. Explored much of the Pacific including New Zealand, Australia and Hawaii.

Captain George Vancouver (1757 – 1798) Explored North West Coast of North America.

Alexander MacKenzie (1764-1820) Scottish-Canadian explorer who in 1789, looking for the Northwest Passage, followed the river now named after him to the Arctic Ocean and then in 1793 crossed the Rockies and reached the Pacific in 1793, thus beating Lewis and Clark by 12 years.

David Thompson (1770 – 1857) English/Canadian explorer who mapped over 3.9 million square kilometres of North America – has been described as the “greatest land geographer who ever lived”

Mungo Park (1771-1806) Was the first Westerner to discover the Niger River; he was the first Western explorer to reach Timbuktu, though he didn’t live to share his discovery with the world.

Captain Meriwether Lewis (1774 – 1809) – American explorer and field scientist who led the Lewis and Clark Expedition into the Louisiana Purchase and the Pacific Northwest in 1804-1806.

Simon Fraser (1776 – 1862) Fur trader who charted much of British Columbia

David Livingstone (1813 – 1873) – Scottish missionary and explorer in central Africa. He was the first European to see Victoria Falls, which he named in honour of Queen Victoria.

Henry Morton Stanley (1841 – 1904) – Welsh journalist and explorer in central Africa best remembered for his search for David Livingstone, and upon finding him saying: “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”

Otto Sverdrup (1854 – 1930) – Norwegian explorer. Mapped the Northernmost part of Canada in 1898-1902.

Roald Amundsen (1872 – 1928) – Norwegian explorer. He led the first successful Antarctic expedition between 1910 and 1912. He was also the first ever person to successfully traverse the North West Passage.

Ernest Shackleton (1874 – 1922) – Irish Explorer, noted for his ill-fated Endurance expedition to Antarctica.

Hiram Bingham III (1875 – 1956) – U.S. Senator from Connecticut and explorer best known for uncovering Machu Picchu.

Robert Bartlett (1875 – 1946) – Newfoundland captain. Led over 40 expeditions to the Arctic, more than anyone before or since. Was the first to sail north of 88° N latitude.

Knud Rasmussen (1879 – 1933) – Greenlandic polar explorer and anthropologist. Rasmussen was the first to cross the Northwest Passage via dog sled.

Admiral Richard Byrd (1888 – 1957), American aviator. Flew over North Pole (in doubt).

Thor Heyerdahl (1914 –2002) Norwegian. Sail Kon Tiki raft across Pacific.

Sir Edmund Percival Hillary (1919–2008) – New Zealand explorer, together with Tenzing Norgay, the first to climb Mount Everest on May 29, 1953.

Yuri Gagarin (1934 –1968) – Soviet cosmonaut who on April 12, 1961 became the first man in space and the first human to orbit Earth.

Neil Armstrong (1930 – ) – American astronaut – First human to set foot on the Moon on July 20, 1969.

Robert Ballard  (1942) – undersea explorer; discovered the shipwreck of the RMS Titanic’.


February 21, 2009 - Posted by | History

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