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