Famous Explorers

The world would surely have been unearthed had it not been for its band of illustrious explorers. Now that we have a lot to thank them for their adventurous voyages and discoveries, we must also know more about their act of exploration. 

The feat of exploration can be traced in their unquenchable thirst to discover uncharted territories, whether worldly or spatial, the interiors of the earth for natural reserves like oil, gas, coal, ores, water or simply searching for more information. 

The act can also depict the invasion of one person to explore the geography and culture of another. The Age of Exploration marked the pinnacle of all such activity and was spearheaded by European explorers touring the world to unravel unknown worlds and societies.

Also known as the Age of Discovery, it began in the early 15th century and spanned the early 17th century. It was a time when European capitalists undertook such voyages to find new trading routes and forge commercial alliances.

This led to the unraveling of new lands and their inhabitants. Some of the greatest explorers of the times included Marco Polo, Vasco Núñez de Balboa, Ferdinand Magellan, Hernán Cortés, Sir Francis Drake, Christopher Columbus, Vasco da Gama, Pedro Álvares Cabral, John Cabot, Ferdinand Magellan, Abel Tasman, Jacques Cartier, Samuel de Champlain, Willem Jansz, Captain James Cook, to name a few.

The Renaissance spirit backed by technological advancement in cartography, navigation, firepower and shipbuilding was the fount of these explorations.

At this time, one of the landmark events was the invention of sea liners that were advanced enough to sail beyond the calm Mediterranean Sea and into the vast and unpredictable Atlantic. Invented in Iberia, the two models named the Carrack and Caravel, were a combination of medieval European patterns, Mediterranean and North Sea models and some Arabic add-ons.

This Iberian innovation fuelled the zest of discovery among the neighboring Castilian sailors in the 15th century. This led to a war of control for the Canary Islands between the Castilians and Iberians.

The search for new trade routes began when Aragon and Castile became a united power. In 1492, they together occupied the Moorish nation of Granada. This in turn leads us to one of the greatest explorers of our times, none other than Christopher Columbus. The Aragon-Castile alliance sponsored a voyage for Christopher Columbus in order to get one over Portugal’s supremacy over Africa and the Indian Ocean. They wanted Columbus to reach Asia through the western route to that end. As history knows, Columbus did not reach Asia but rather discovered America.

The discovery of new lands continued unabated. In 1500 Portuguese explorer, Pedro Álvares Cabral discovered Brazil. All these sightings of geographical areas led to a contest for colonization between the Portuguese and the Spanish.

Then followed the exploration of Africa by another great explorer Dr. David Livingstone. It was his missionary voyage to the depths of Africa that also led to the discovery of the Victoria Falls and the mission to check slavery.

Apart from discovering new lands, conquering tough terrains has also been a great feat of explorers. Sir Edmund Percival Hillary is one of the legendary names in this sphere. He was the first to climb Mount Everest with Tenzing Norgay.

Any reference to great explorers would be incomplete without Robert Peary and Roald Amudsen. These two great polar explorers were the first to conquer the North and the South Pole respectively.

These are only a few to make their mark in history. Thousands of other explorers contributed immensely in bringing the world together and unraveling the mysteries of unknown places.