- NAME: Amerigo Vespucci
- OCCUPATION: Explorer
- BIRTH DATE: c. 1454
- DEATH DATE: c. 1512
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Florence, Italy
- PLACE OF DEATH: Seville, Spain
- Full Name: Amerigo Vespucci
- Nickname: "Pickle Dealer"
- AKA: America’s namesake
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America was named after Amerigo Vespucci, a Florentine navigator and explorer who played a prominent role in exploring the New World.
Explorer Amerigo Vespucci was born in 1451 in Italy. On his third voyage, he discovered present-day Rio de Janeiro. Believing he had discovered a new continent, he called South America the New World. In 1507, America was named after him.
492 years before Columbus in Polynesia, ancient voyagers may have reached North and South America in their travels.
Believing that he knows a better way to get to China, Columbus finally convinced the Spanish Queen to fund his expedition. However, she only gave him three small ships: the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria.
Explorer Vasco da Gama was commissioned by the Portuguese king to find a maritime route to the East. His success in doing so proved to be one of the more instrumental moments in the history of navigation.
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Decades later, in 1538, the mapmaker Mercator, working off the maps created at St-Dié, chose to mark the name America on both the northern and the southern parts of the continent, instead of just the southern portion. While the definition of America expanded to include more territory, Vespucci seemed to gain credit for areas that most would agree were actually first discovered by Christopher Columbus.
In 1505, Vespucci, who was born and raised in Italy, became a naturalized citizen of Spain. Three years later, he was awarded the office of piloto mayor, or master navigator, of Spain. In this role, Vespucci's job was to recruit and train other navigators, as well as to gather data on continued New World exploration. Vespucci held the position for the remainder of his life.
On February 22, 1512, Amerigo Vespucci died of malaria in Seville, Spain. He was just a month shy of 58 years old.
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Throughout the centuries, brave explorers have fearlessly traveled the globe and beyond to discover new lands, people, animal species, riches and glory. Ferdinand Magellan of Portugal proved the world is round with his mission to sail around the world. His fellow countryman Vasco da Gama commanded the first European ship around the southern tip of Africa to reach India by sea. Norseman Leif Eriksson is regarded as the first European to reach North America, nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus, who is credited with discovering the “New World” of the Americas. Juan Ponce de León scoured Puerto Rico and Florida in his quest for the fountain of youth. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark blazed new trails during their Corps of Discovery Expedition across the western half of the United States. Traveling to new heights of discovery were mountain climber Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to reach the peak of Mount Everest, and U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first human to walk on the moon. These intrepid explorers and more have made an indelible mark on human history. See all Explorers.
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