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Exploration Study Guide
Why Explore?
 Europeans wanted silk, spices, and gold that merchants brought from China and other Asian countries
 Trading and exploring brought adventure and money to people’s lives
 Marco Polo found a land route to China, but travel was difficult  Europeans searched for a sea route
 New technologies and navigational tools such as the astrolabe, compass, improved maps, and better
ship designs made it easier to search for water routes to Asia
Major Explorers
Bartolomeu Dias
Christopher Columbus
John Cabot
Year: 1487
Country: Portugal
Goal: Explore coast of West Africa
Accomplishments: A fierce storm
blew ships off course. After the storm,
he realized he had sailed around the
southern tip of Africa, he paved the
way for other explorers to sail around
the tip of Africa to India
Year: 1492
Country: Spain (King Ferdinand and
Queen Isabella)
Goal: Find a route to Asia by sailing
West, make money from gold and
spices, spread Catholic religion
Accomplishments: Landed in presentday San Salvador, explored the region
so other sailors and merchants could
follow his route and trade people,
animals, and plants (Columbian
Impact on Natives: Brought disease,
enslaved native people, began to cut
down rainforests to grow crops
Year: 1497
Country: England
Goal: Reach Asia by sailing across the
Atlantic Ocean
Accomplishments: Reached and
explored Canada, found rich fishing
areas so a fishing industry developed,
Europeans began to send more
explorers to search these waters for a
passage to Asia
Vasco de Gama
Vasco Nunez Balboa
Juan Ponce de Leon
Year: 1498
Country: Portugal
Goal: Find a sea route to India
Accomplishments: Ships reached the
Indian port of Calicut by sailing
around the Southern tip of Africa,
other sailors began to use his route to
India for spice trading
Year: 1513
Country: Spain
Goal: Explore Central and South
Accomplishments: Crossed South
American jungles overland and
reached the Pacific Ocean, changed
the way Europeans thought North and
South American looked
Year: 1513
Country: Spain
Goal: Search for gold and the
“Fountain of Youth”
Accomplishments: Explored presentday Florida
Ferdinand Magellan
Hernán Cortes
Jacques Cartier
Year: 1519
Country: Spain
Goal: Sail west, go around South
America, cross the Pacific Ocean, and
return to Spain
Accomplishments: Only one ship of
the original five returned to Spain in
1522, Magellan’s crew was the first to
circumnavigate the world
Year: 1519
Country: Spain
Goal: Lead an expedition to presentday Mexico to find gold
Accomplishments: Conquered the
Aztec people, other conquistadors
explored Central and South America to
find more gold and treasures
Impact on Natives: Brought disease,
enslaved native people, forced the
Aztecs to leave their capital city
Year: 1534
Country: France
Goal: Find a water route to Asia
Accomplishments: Explored the St.
Lawrence River
Exploration Study Guide
Henry Hudson
Samuel de Champlain
Year: 1609 and 1610
Country: Netherlands and England
Goal: Search for the “Northwest
Passage” – a water route to Asia
through North America
Accomplishments: Explored Hudson
Bay and Hudson River, allowed
Dutch and English to make claims on
land in these regions
Year: 1608
Country: France
Goal: Find a water route to Asia
Accomplishments: Founded the first
permanent French settlement in North
America (Quebec), Europeans began
to come to this region to trade furs
New Spain
 Spain began to settle colonies in North and Central America – called these colonies New Spain
 The goals of the Spanish settlers were to...
o Find valuable minerals like gold and silver
o Start missions to teach the Catholic religion to American Indians
o To start successful farms to grow crops like squash, corn, and beans
 Spanish colonists enslaved and overworked the American Indians in mines and on farms  slaves from
Africa were brought to North America to work
 Some colonists asked the Spanish rulers to make laws to end mistreatment of the American Indians, but
these laws did not work very well
New England
Roanoke Colony (present-day North Carolina)
 Colonists could not adapt to the environment – the colony failed
Jamestown (present-day Virginia)
 At first, Jamestown colonists could not adapt to the environment
o Land was swampy so people could not farm
o Insects carried disease that made them sick
o The unhealthy water made them sick
 Later, Captain John Smith helped the colonists adapt to their environment
o Used trees to build fences and shelters
o Dug wells for water
o Traded with Native Americans for food
o Grew tobacco – a cash crop that they sold for a lot of money in England. This money was used
to buy food and supplies
Pilgrims (present-day Massachusetts)
 Came to North America for religious freedom – different from others who came to buy and sell goods
 Had trouble because they could not farm in their new environment  American Indians helped them
Massachusetts Bay Colony (present-day Massachusetts)
 Puritans who came to North America for religious freedom
 Came prepared with many people, cattle, and with enough time to plant crops – very successful colony!
New France
 French settlers built colonies in present-day Canada
 The climate in Canada was very cold and not good for farming
 French settlers based their economy on fishing, hunting, and trapping animals for their fur
 French trappers traded with American Indians
 These Europeans adapted their lifestyles to take advantage of the physical environment