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Motives for Exploration

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When you think of exploring new territory, what comes to mind? Hacking through wild bush with a machete? Sailing into the unknown on large ships? Blasting off in a rocket into space? There are several ways to explore the unknown, just like there are several different reasons to do it!

Motives for Exploration - The New World

Christopher Columbus made one of the most famous voyages of exploration in 1492 when he sailed from Palos, Spain in search of a route to Asia and the Indies. Instead, Columbus found the New World - the Americas. Other voyages soon followed Columbus'. At first, Europeans thought of the Americas as little more than a chunk of land blocking their way to the Indies. It didn't take long for them to realise that the Americas had great resources of its own.

Christopher ColumbusChristopher Columbus

Motives for Exploration - Wealth and Religion

The motives for Spanish, French and English explorers were all different, although in some ways, they were the same. They all wanted to find the Northwest Passage, which they believed was a direct and efficient route to the Orient - home of spices, silks and wealth. They also wanted to lay claim to new land to expand their empires. The Spanish explorers were in search of mineral wealth, looking for El Dorado (the City of Gold) and they aspired to spread Christianity. France also wanted to spread Christianity and find a new route by water to the East through North America. The English were motivated by a desire to colonize as much of the Americas as possinble - to add to the ever-increasing British Empire.

Motives for Exploration - Did U Know?

  • While Columbus is often mistakenly credited as being the first European to lay eyes on North America, the Vikings got there more than 400 years before him.
  • A Spanish explorer happened upon Florida while searching for the "Fountain of Youth".
  • Eurpoean explorers brought more than just boats with them to the new world. They were also carrying the Smallpox disease (a deadly relative of Chicken Pox), which killed millions of native people.

Viking BoatViking Boat
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Why Would You Explore?