The Age of Exploration
The Age of Exploration took place between the 15th and 17th centuries. During this time many countries in Europe sent out explorers to discover new lands, find trade routes, seek treasure, and gain territory for their country. During this time much of the world was mapped and many world civilizations came into contact with each other. Sometimes it is called the Age of Discovery.
Why People Explore
The reasons for exploration can vary widely. Most explorers certainly like the adventure of going to a new place, meeting new peoples and cultures, or taking on new challenges.
Trade - Many countries and rulers funded explorers in order to find new trade partners and goods. In some cases they hope to find new trade routes that would help them to transport goods cheaper than their competitors. This was the case of Vasco da Gama and Christopher Columbus.
Gold - Often explorers have been in search of riches and treasure. The Conquistadors were primarily searching for gold and silver when they conquered the Native Americans of the New World.
Science - In many cases, explorers are scientists hoping to learn about nature and new parts of the world. They may be hoping to find a new species of animal or type of plant.
Land - Many explorers claimed the land they found in the name of their country. Countries like Spain, Portugal, and Great Britain amassed huge empires during the Age of Exploration.
Challenge - Many explorers want to test their personal limits and be the first in the world to do something. These types of explorers include the men who raced to be the first to the North and South Poles, the top of Mount Everest, and to the Moon.
Famous world explorers:
- Roald Amundsen
- Neil Armstrong
- Daniel Boone
- Christopher Columbus
- Captain James Cook
- Hernan Cortes
- Vasco da Gama
- Sir Francis Drake
- Edmund Hillary
- Henry Hudson
- Lewis and Clark
- Ferdinand Magellan
- Francisco Pizarro
- Marco Polo
- Juan Ponce de Leon
- Spanish Conquistadores
- Zheng He
Back to Biography for Kids
Back to History for KidsFor more reading and reference, try these books:
- Eye Wonder: Explorers by Marie Greenwood. 2006.
- 10 Explorers that Changed the World by Clive Gifford. 2008.
- Explorers: From Columbus to Armstrong by Felicity Everett and Struan Reid. 1991.
- Eye Witness Books: Explorer by Dorling Kindersley. 2000.