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Famous Explorers

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44 facts:

Abel Tasman
Was the First European to Sail to Tasmania
His first expedition was to Australasia, the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific in 1642. Tasman is best known for his voyages of 1642 and 1644 in the service of the United East India Company. He was the first known European expedition to reach the islands of Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania) and New Zealand and to sight the Fiji islands, in 1643.
Alexander Von Humboldt
Was First to Discover an Animal That Produced Electricity
Electric eel. He was a naturalist and botanist and discovered many of the species of plants and animals in the Amazon, Peru, Mexico and Ecaudor.
Alvise Da Cadamosto
Claims to Have Discovered the Cape Verde Islands
Navigator and merchant who sailed for Prince Henry of Portugal, in 1455 Cadamosto reached the mouth of the Gambia River and in 1456 sailed the Gambia River to the Geba River
Amerigo Vespucci
Had Both North and South America Named in His Honor
Born to wealthy Florentine family, he became a businessman involved in trading imported goods. After moving to Spain in 1491, Vespucci became a skilled navigator and after his explorations of 1501-1502 he was one of the first to believe that the Americas were not part of Asia.
Antonie De Cadillac
Was Founder of the City of Detroit in 1701
The City of Cadillac, Cadillac Mountain and the Cadillac car are all his namesake.
Arthur Phillip
Was Founder of the First Permanent European Settlement in Australia 1788
He captained the first ship of the First Fleet to arrive and settle in Botany Bay, Sydney. He governed NSW until 1792 when his ill health led him to return to England. Australia Day is the celebration of the First Fleets arrival at Sydney Cove on the 26
Bernal Diaz Del Castillo
Chronicled the Spanish Conquest of Mexico
(1492-1584) "Verdadera Historia de la Conquista de Nueva Espana" 1568. Spanish historian and soldier.
Burke and Wills
Were the First Europeans to Cross Australia from South to North
They were inexperienced explorers who where chosen to lead an expedition to find a passage from South to North through the treacherous terrain of inland Australia and win the prize posted by the Victorian Government. They both died on the return trip home from starvation and exhaustion.
Captain James Cook
Was the First European to Discover Eastern and Northern Australia
He also the first European to discover most of the 2 main Islands of New Zealand and mapped much of the Pacific. He was killed on The Sandwich Island now known as Hawaii. His ship returned to England without him
Christopher Columbus
Hoped to Find a Trade Route to India
Italian explorer sailing for Spain. First spotted Carribean Islands on October 11, 1492, landing on San Salvador. Thinking he had reached Asia he name the area the Indies and called the inhabitants Indians. He captured many natives and later sold them into slavery. He made 4 trips to the New World.
Colonel Daniel Boone
Founded the First US Settlement West of the Appalachian Mountains
Boone built a fort on the Kentucky River what is now Madison County.
David Thompson
Was the First European to Explore the Entire Length of Columbia River
He was a well known map maker and charted in detail the Columbia River which was used for many years after his
Edward John Eyre
Was the First European to Walk Across Australia from East to West
With his Aboriginal friend Wylie, set off along the Coast with horses but the terrain, harsh conditions and lack of food forced most of the men and horses to turn back. It took them 4 ½ months to complete and they survived on kangaroo and water collected in sponges from the dew.
Ferdinand Magellan
Was First to Circumnavigate the World
Portuguese explorer. Born to a noble Portuguese family, he sailed many times to India and the Far East for Portugal but after a dispute with King Manoel II he sailed for Spain. He was killed on the Phillipine island of Mactan during a battle with natives. Magellan named the Pacific Ocean.
Francisco Vasquez De Coronado
Was the First European to Explore North America's Southwest
(1510-1554) Ruthless governor of New Galicia, Mexico, he searched fruitlessly for treasure in fabled seven Golden Cities of Cibola. He traveled through what is now northern Mexico, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. He killed many native Americans who refused to convert to Christianity and his expedition was viewed a failure by Spain.
Fransisco Pizarro
Conquered the Incas of Peru in 1534
The Inca Emperor offered his captors enough gold to fill the 22 foot room where he was being held. The ransom was collected and Pizarro had the last Incan Emperor strangled.
George Vancouver
Sailed the NW Coast of North America
English navigator and explorer who between 1578 and 1598 sailed the Discovery and the Chatham to the Strait of Juan de Fuca on the US-Canada border. Named Puget Sound, Mt. Ranier, Whidbey Island, the Hood Canal and discovered Vancouver Island. Had served for James Cook on Cook's 2nd and 3rd voyages.
Giovanni Da Verrazzano
Explored the NE Coast of North America
Italian navigator who sailed in 1524 for King Francois I of France, landing near Cape Fear, N. Carolina. Then sailed north to NY to the narrows which are named for him. Verrazzano thought N. America was a thin isthmus between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The Verrazzano Narrows Bridge spans NY harbor, connecting Brooklyn and Staten Island. Verrazzano was eventually killed and eaten by Carib Indians in 1528.
Henry Hudson
Discovered the Hudson River and New York in 1609
Hudson died when his crew mutinied and left Hudson, his son and seven crew members adrift in a small open boat in the Hudson Bay.
Hernando De Soto
Was the First European to Explore Florida and SE United States
Arrived on the west coast of Florida on May 30, 1539 with 10 ships carrying 600 soldiers, priests, and explorers. They spents four years searching for gold and silver, ravaging many tribes of native Americans. He was killed in 1542.
Hernan Cortez
Overthrew the Aztec Empire
Failed law student turned adventurer and conquistador, sailing from Cuba to Yucatan Peninsula looking for treasure. Traveling inland to Tenechititlan, he killed Montezuman and claimed all of Mexico for Spain. He brought grand treasures back to Spain and was hailed a hero in his homeland.
Jacque Cartier
Paved the Way for French Exploration of America
Led three expeditions (1534, 1535, and 1541) looking for a NW passage. Cartier sailed 1000 miles up the St. Lawrence River, named Canada from "Kanata" meaning "village or settlement" in the Huron-Iroquois language.
John Cabot
Laid the First British Claim to Canadian Land
B. Genoa, Italian sailing for England on the Matthew, landed near Labrador, Newfoundland in 1497 while looking for a NW passage to Asia. Accompanied by his son, explorer Sebastian Cabot.
Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo
Sailed from Acapulco to Southern California
In 1542. Claiming California for King Charles I of Spain, he named Sand Diego Bay and Santa Barbara. He died from complications of a broken leg.
Louis Joliet
Discovered the Mississippi River in 1673
Explorer. Joliet expanded fur trade, did extensive mapping of the river systems and established a fort in Anticosti Island.
Marco Polo
Was One of the First Europeans to Travel to China
Italian adventurer left on journey in 1271 with uncle, Maffeo, both sailing and traveling overland, eventually reaching Beijing. Polo's written accounts have reports of porcelain, coal, gunpowder, printing, papermoney and silk. "Book of Ser Marco Polo" written in 1298 to chronicle his travels.
Matthew Flinders
Circumnavigated and Mapped Australian Coastlines
He and George Bass where the first to realise that Tasmania was an Island.
Mungo Park
Charted the Course of the Niger River in 1795
Park travelled hundreds of miles by horseback and foot over harsh terrain charting the River and finding the source of the Niger River. Park and his enterage where attacked at the rapids of Bussa and drowned
Peter Minuit
Was the First Director General of New Amsterdam
He bought the Isle Of Manhattan from Native Americans with trinkets valued at $24. He founded New Amsterdam on the Southern tip of Manhattan in 1631.
Ponce De Leon
Found an Island Near Hispaniola With Large Deposits of Gold
In 1506. Returned to Spain in 1508 and was ordered by king to return to explore and colonize the island which de Leon named Puerto Rico. He was Governor for 2 years when he was replaced by Columbus' son. de Leon sailed north towards Florida looking for the legendary Fountain of Youth, landing near St. Augustine in March 1513. He gave Florida its name.
Rene Robert Cavelier
Was First to Travel the Length of the Mississippi River
He and his men built Fort Prud’homme what is now Memphis. They claimed all the land along the Mississippi for France.
Robert Gray
Was the First American Born Explorer to Circumnavigate the Globe in an American Ship
Gray sighted, named and sailed up the Columbian river in Oregon and also explored Gray’s Harbour which is now known as Washington.
Samuel De Champlain
Charted the Coast of Nova Scotia in 1604
In 1605 he established a colony in Port Royal Nova Scotia. He also colonised Quebec for trade in Fur.
Sebastian Cabot
Founded the First Settlement for Spain in Present Day Argentina
Born Venice; Cartographer for Henry VIII, then employed by Spain as member of "Council of the Indies". Departed March 4 1525, commanded Spanish fleet with new route to Moluccas, exploring Parana River as far as its jucture with Paraguay.
Sir Francis Drake
Circumnavigated the World in 1577
In 1577 Sir Francis, who was famous for being a seaman, explorer and a pirate, was commissioned by Queen Elizabeth to sail around the world. He renamed his ship the Golden Hind.
Sir Humphrey Gilbert
Discovered Newfoundland in 1583
He also arranged for the settlement of English Catholics in America in 1582. On his return to England after discovering Newfoundland he drowned at sea.
Sir Martin Frobisher
Began Three Trips Looking for NW Passage in 1535
British privateer who discovered Baffin Bay, Resolution Island and Frobisher Bay. Is said to have held first Canadian thanksgiving feast in what is now Newfoundland.
Sir Richard Francis Burton
Was the First European to See Lake Tanganyika
After a failed attempt in 1855, Burton returned to Africa with John Hanning Speke to explore Africa (1857-58). Burton contracted malaria and he and Speke disagreed about Lake Victoria (named by Speke) being the source of the White nile. Burton is well-known for his translation of the 16 volumes of "The Tales of the Arabian Nights". He was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1886.
Sir Walter Raleigh
Established the Virginia Colony of Roanoke Island in 1584
He became Queen Elizabeths favourite explorer until she discovered he married one of her maids and was placed in the tower of London but was released because one of his ships brought back a huge treasure from a captured Spanish ship.
Vasco De Gama
Discovered an Ocean Route to Asia
Portuguese explorer who sailed from Lisbon on July 8, 1497, heading east then south, skirting the west coast of Africa. He rounded the Cape of Good Hope on Novemember 22 and reached India May 29, 1498.
Vasco Nunez De Balboa
Was the First European to See Eastern Part of the Pacific Ocean in 1513
(1475-1519) Sailed from Spain in 1500 to northern coast of South America but ship was abandoned in Hispaniola. In 1510 Balboa stowed away with other Europeans to found the first settlement in the south Americas at Darien, Panama.
Vitus Bering
Sailed the Seas off Alaska and NE Siberia
Danish explorer who sailed from 1725-1730 for Tsar Peter the Great of Russia to see whether or not Asia and N. America were connected. The Bering Strait is named for him.
William Dampier
Discovered and Named New Britain
He charted the coastlines of Australia, New Guinea, and Southeast Asia keeping a detail journal of native cultures, the first typhoon noted and other discoveries.
William Hovell
Was the First European to Discover the Murray River and Mount Bland
He covered 670 miles there and 150 miles less on the way back and took 1 year to complete the journey.

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