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Christopher Columbus
(1451-1506)
Christopher Columbus was born between August 25 and October 31, 1451, in Genoa, Italy. He died on May 20, 1506, in Valladolid, Spain
.

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The Far East
The Far East is made up of the countries of India, China, and Japan. It is also known as the Indies. The Europeans traded with the Far East for spices, jewels, gold, ivory, pearls, and silk. They relied on a single trade route over land from Europe to the Far East.

This trade route was established by Marco Polo between 1271 and 1274. The route was thousands of miles long and took months to travel. The route was dangerous because robbers would loot the traders of their goods.

In 1435, the Ottoman Empire blocked the European trade route to the Far East. If the Europeans wanted to continue trading with the Far East, they would have to find another route.

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New Trade Route
The Portuguese tried to find a new route to the Far East by sailing south around the African continent. In 1488, Bartholomew Diaz discovered Africa's southern tip. It is called the Cape of Good Hope. In 1499, Vasco da Gama continued around the Cape of Good Hope and discovered a sea route to the Far East.

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Another Idea for a New Trade Route
Before da Gama found this trade route to the Far East, Christopher Columbus had another idea for a trade route. Columbus believed the earth was round, and therefore, he could reach the East by sailing west. To do so, he would have to cross the Ocean Sea. Today, the Ocean Sea is known as the Atlantic
Ocean.

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The Ocean Sea
Other people also believed the earth was round. However, they did not think a boat could reach the East by sailing west because they thought the Ocean Sea could not be crossed. At this time, there were several myths about the Ocean Sea. They include:

     The ships would catch on fire because the water reached boiling temperatures.

     The ships would be destroyed by the monsters living in the Ocean Sea.

     The Ocean Sea was too big to sail across.

     If a ship sailed west, it would sail downhill. Therefore, the ship could not return because it would have to sail uphill.

In 1492, Christopher successfully sailed across the Ocean Sea and dispelled all myths about it. However, he did not find a new trade route to the East. Instead, he discovered the New World.

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The New World
Before Christopher's voyage in 1492, the Europeans thought the world consisted only of Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Ocean Sea. They did not know the continents of North and South America existed.

After 1492, Europeans were exposed to other parts of the world. They called this the New World because these lands were new to them.

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The Age of Discovery
Christopher's sea explorations led to the Age of Discovery. His discoveries encouraged other explorers to follow and sail to unknown territories. Other discoveries include:

     In 1499, Vasco da Gama discovered a sea route from Europe to Asia by sailing around the tip of Africa.

     In 1513, Vasco Nuñez de Balboa crossed Central America and discovered the Pacific Ocean.

     In 1513, Juan Ponce de León discovered Florida.

     In 1520, Ferdinand Magellan sailed around the southern tip of South America to the Pacific Ocean.

     In 1522, one of Ferdinand Magellan's ships was the first ship to sail around the world.

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