During the late-fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, knowledge of Earth’s geography grew in leaps and bounds. Christopher Columbus, John Cabot, and Amerigo Vespucci introduced the Americas into recorded history. Vasco da Gama was the first European to sail through the Indian Ocean to Asia, and Ferdinand Magellan and Francis Drake circumnavigated the globe.
This century of global exploration saw different peoples interacting with each other for the first time—allying, trading, warring, and enslaving. These encounters set the course for the modern, globally interdependent world. Retrace the expeditions that changed our understanding of the world in this interactive Google Earth Voyager story.
Learn more about the lives and journeys of some of history's greatest explorers with our PBS World Explorers collection.