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Explorations and Discoveries by Sea

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Date Explorer Nationality Chief Achievements
ca. 982 Eric the Red Norse Sailed to Greenland from Iceland.
ca. 1000 Leif Ericson Norse Probably first European to reach mainland of North America.
1487-1488 Bartolomeu Dias Portuguese First European to round Cape of Good Hope.
1492-1504 Christopher Columbus Italian Made four voyages to West Indies and Caribbean lands. Sailed under Spanish flag.
1497-1503 Amerigo Vespucci Italian Made several voyages to West Indies and South America. Sailed under flags of Spain and Portugal.
1497-1498 John Cabot Italian Voyages across the North Atlantic to present-day Canadian Maritime Provinces. Sailed under English flag.
1498 Vasco da Gama Portuguese First European to reach India by sea.
1500-1501 Pedro Álvares Cabral Portuguese Reached Brazilian coast and sailed around Africa to India.
1519-1522 Juan Sebastián del Cano Spanish Completed voyage after Magellan's death.
1519-1521 Ferdinand Magellan Portuguese Commanded first voyage around the world. Sailed under Spanish flag.
1524 Giovanni da Verrazano Italian Searched for Northwest Passage. Sailed under French flag.
1526-1530 Sebastian Cabot Italian Explored South American coast to the Río de la Plata. Sailed under Spanish flag.
1535 Jacques Cartier French Sailed up the St. Lawrence River.
1553 Sir Hugh Willoughby English Sought a northeast passage to Asia.
1576-1578 Sir Martin Frobisher English Searched North American coast for a Northwest Passage.
1577-1580 Sir Francis Drake English First Englishman to make voyage around the world.
1596-1597 Willem Barents Dutch Pilot on expedition that reached Spitsbergen Island.
1602 Bartholomew Gosnold English Explored New England coast; reached Cape Cod.
1609-1611 Henry Hudson English Explored Hudson Bay, River, and Strait. Sailed under Dutch flag (1609); for English merchants (1610-1611).
1616 Dirck Hartog Dutch Explored western coast of Australia.
1642 Abel Janszoon Tasman Dutch Reached Tasmania and New Zealand.
1683-1711 William Dampier English Made three voyages around world; explored coasts of Australia, New Guinea, and New Britain.
1727-1729; 1740-1741 Vitus Bering Danish Explored Bering Strait and coasts of Alaska and northeast Asia. Sailed under Russian flag.
1766-1769 Louis Antoine de Bougainville French Led first French expedition around the world.
1768-1779 James Cook English Made extensive oceanic voyages; explored South Pacific.
1785-1788 Comte de La Pérouse French Explored Pacific coasts of Asia and North America; sighted La Pérouse (now Soya) Strait.
1787-1793 Robert Gray American Led two voyages around world; entered the Columbia River.
1792 George Vancouver English Sailed around Vancouver Island.
1798 George Bass English Reached Bass Strait between Australia and Tasmania; sailed around Tasmania.
1903-1906 Roald Amundsen Norwegian First to sail through the Northwest Passage.

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The Robinson Library >> History of Discoveries, Explorations, and Travel

This page was last updated on 08/06/2018.