The age of exploration

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The Age of Exploration
Ricardo Tobar


The Age of Exploration or Age of Discovery as it is sometimes called, officially began in the early 15th century and lasted untilthe 17th century. The period is characterized as a time when Europeans began exploring the world by sea in search of trading partners, new goods, and new trade routes. In addition, some explorers set sail to simply learn more about the world. Whatever their reasons though, the information gained during the Age of Exploration significantly helped in the advancement of geographic knowledge.

Reasonof Exploration
And Key Voyages

Though the desire to simply explore the unknown and discover new knowledge is a typical human trait, the world's famous explorers often lacked the funding needed for a ship, supplies, and a crew to get underway on their journeys. As a result, many turned to their respective governments which had their own desires for the exploration of new areas.
Many nationswere looking for goods such as silver and gold but one of the biggest reasons for exploration was the desire to find a new route for the spice and silk trades. When the Ottoman Empire took control of Constantinople in 1453, it blocked European access to the area, severely limiting trade. In addition, it also blocked access to North Africa and the Red Sea -- two very important trade routes to theFar East.
The first of the journeys associated with the Age of Discovery were conducted by the Portuguese under Prince Henry the Navigator. These voyages were different than those previously conducted by the Portuguese because they covered a much larger area. Earlier sailors relied on portolan charts which are maps created for navigators based off of land features. Because these charts relied onthe ability to see land, the voyages prior to those conducted by Prince Henry stayed along the coastlines.
In challenging this form of navigation, the Portuguese sailed out of sight of land and discovered the Madeira Islands in 1419 and the Azores in 1427. The main goal for the Portuguese voyages though was to discover a trade route to West Africa without having to go through the Sahara Desert. Bythe mid-1400s, this goal was realized and a trading port was established at Elmina in West Africa.
Also during the Age of Discovery were the famed voyages of Christopher Columbus. These voyages started as an attempt to find a trade route to Asia by sailing west. Instead, he reach America in 1492 and shared information on this newly found land with Spain and the rest of Europe. Shortlythereafter, the Portuguese explorer Pedro Alvares Cabral explored Brazil, setting off a conflict between Spain and Portugal in terms of the newly claimed lands. As a result, the Treaty of Tordesillas officially divided the world in half in 1494.
Some other important voyages of exploration that took place during the Age of Exploration were Ferdinand Magellan's attempted circumnavigation of the globe, thesearch for a trade route to Asia through the Northwest Passage, and Captain James Cook's voyages that allowed him to map various areas and travel as far as Alaska.

The End of the Age of Exploration

The Age of Exploration ended in the early 17th century after technological advancements and increased knowledge of the world allowed Europeans to travel easily across the globe by sea. In addition,the creation of settlements along the coasts of the newly found areas created a network of communication and trade, therefore ending the need to search for trade routes.
Though the Age of Exploration officially ended in the 17th century, it is important to note however that the exploration did not cease entirely at this time. Eastern Australia was not discovered until 1770 and the Arctic and...
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