58

In fact during the Age of Discovery, Africa had been the principle objective. It really begins with Prince Henry the Navigator, a son of the King of Portugal who had an intense fascination with Africa. In particular he was taken with the legend of Prester John, said to be a descendant of one of the Three Magi who presided over a magical land with marvels ...


46

Africa was relatively densely populated compared to North and South America. When Europeans landed in the Americas, they were sparsely populated, and the Indians often died from diseases brought by Europeans. The few that didn't were easily conquered by the Europeans, whom "advanced" cultures such as the Aztecs and Incas mistook for gods. The Africans had ...


36

As fate would have it, the first known globe of the Earth was created in 1492, the same year as Columbus' voyage. As such, it is also the only known globe to depict the area between Western Europe and East Asia prior to the discovery of the New World. None of the earlier flat maps I could find made any kind of legitimate effort at depicting this area. The ...


26

Very poor terrain (harsh deserts, heavy rain forests) and very frightening diseases. Later advances in technology and especially medicine made the process tolerable and possible.


24

We can be fairly certain that humans did not live on Antarctica, the continent, before the 20th century. Since about 15 Ma, the continent has been mostly covered with ice. Ref: Trewby, Mary, ed. Antarctica: An Encyclopedia from Abbott Ice Shelf to Zooplankton. Firefly Books. ISBN 1-55297-590-8. Intermittent warm periods allowed Nothofagus shrubs to ...


20

As to how they made it safely, don't be fooled by the fact that they only had 'canoes'; double-hulled ships are far more seaworthy than single hulls of a similar size. That's not to say it wasn't risky or difficult, but modern people have successfully followed the paths of early Polynesian migrations using traditionally designed boats and (more ...


20

Because the Sahara desert goes all the way to the Atlantic coast. The Romans were not great seafarers and required the support of coastal towns to cover long distances. The Western Sahara represents a break in that chain, over 1000 km of inhospitable coastline. Even today, Western Sahara is one of the most sparsely populated areas in the world with an ...


18

Polynesians discovered and colonized pretty much the entire Pacific this way. Easter Island is one of their more impressive discoveries, but it isn't even the most impressive. That title has to go to Madagascar, which was settled from Borneo (about 5,000 miles away!). How did they do this? Well, the Polynesians were the ancient world's best navigators, and ...


16

In terms of Chinese naval explorers in general, Zheng He springs to mind. He was one of China's primary explorers in the Indian Ocean and beyond in the 14th and 15th centuries. Around this time, the Europeans had been venturing eastward. Zheng He went westward to the "Western Oceans", going to India and the Middle East by sea in an attempt to show China's ...


15

Europeans, perhaps not, someone in the old world, yes. Al-Biruni (973–1050) lived in Khwarezm (modern Uzbekistan). Among other works in mathematics, astronomy, physics, mineralogy, history and geography, he calculated the circumference of Earth with a precision higher than his predecessors, and made some precise maps of known lands. In his work Codex ...


15

It's not a full answer, but if you're interested by medieval Arabic travels, the unavoidable reference is Ibn Baṭūṭah. In his Rihla, he describes three travels he made during the 14th century : from Tangiers to middle-East, with a travel along the East coast of Africa, down to Zanbar and Kilwa. (map here) from Mecca to Beijing, and back, through Eastern ...


14

Malaria I'd actually leave it at that, if the posting software let me. But to elaborate, Europeans actually did actively try to colonize Africa continuously during the Age of Discovery. The problem was that Malaria killed them off quicker than more could be sent. The only place it really worked was in South Africa, which was too temparate for Malaria to ...


14

For reference, here is the official classification from Wikipedia of the conditions necessary for a "pleasant" Antarctic day: Condition 3 Windspeed below 48 knots (55 miles per hour) Visibility greater than 1/4 of a mile (402 meters) Wind chill above −75 °F (−60 °C) Description: Pleasant conditions; all outside travel is permitted. Condition 3 ...


14

The question is a bit confusing. The way I read it, you're asking why something expensive has enough demand to sustain a profitable trade ("How did the high price of spices allow such high demand?"). The answer is that it wasn't that expensive. A pound of spices might cost several days' worth of wages for an average craftsman, but a pound of pepper is a lot ...


13

England The city of Bristol was the hub of English expeditions into the Atlantic. Several voyages were launched from her harbours, the second largest in England, around the time of Columbus. Bristol's mariners were inspired by the legendary phantom island of Brasil, which is said to lie off the western coast of Ireland(1). There is some evidence[2] that at ...


12

Columbus' origins are a bit of a mystery. He himself claimed to have been born in Genoa, but this may have been a ruse according to some. http://www.christopher-columbus.eu/birth-1492.htm lists the most notable claims, Poland is not among those. What all the possible locations have in common is that they're in southern Europe, a quick look at the map shows ...


12

Is there evidence of Chinese exploration of Australia (before European contact)? There is no tangible evidence that Chinese explorers (or traders or any other Chinese for that matter) did land in Australia before the European exploration of the continent began. No Chinese ship wrecks in Australian waters, no Chinese records of having visited Australia, no ...


11

The map shows the general shape of South an Central America, and the general shape of the Atlantic coast of North America. If it shows it in "such detail" or not is a matter of opinion. Sure, a lot of things are correct, but a lot of things are incorrect. The question then is how they could know the general shape of South and Central America at all, and the ...


11

Manuel da Silva Rosa, an information technology analyst, claims that Columbus was the son of Władysław III of Poland (and Hungary, but for some reason nobody seems to mention that). To make this claim, he has to first claim that Władysław III, who died in a battle in 1444 without having children and had his head displayed on a pole, for no good reason faked ...


10

This quote came from the first paragraph of this page, which is in Russian. This is an approximate translation. By September 2007 the North Pole had been visited 66 times by different surface ships: 54 times by Soviet and Russian icebreakers, 4 times by Swedish Oden, 3 times by German RV Polarstern, 3 times by USCGC Healy and USCGC Polar Sea, and once by ...


9

Let me add one more reason: when the discovery age began, large parts of Africa was already "colonized" by the Muslims.


9

This is an interesting and difficult question. Unfortunately, not much is known of Viking equipment, including clothing, because such military goods were relatively expensive and rare. For example, in those times (800-1000 AD) it was common for people to go barefoot, shoes were so expensive. Written works from the time rarely discuss viking clothing in any ...


8

The New World was much easier. European diseases spread rapidly, wiping out the local population, and 'clearing the land'. In Africa, the locals had the same immunity to the likes of smallpox as the Europeans, so it wasn't 'cleared' as quickly. It also has diseases of it's own (e.g. malaria) that would hinder someone coming in.


8

Jesse Byock in "Viking Age Iceland" reports "a type of rough woolen cloak (vararfeldr) that provided protection from the rain". A higher grade of the same wool was impregnated with animal fat and used for sailcloth. Furthermore, seal fat was "used to grease leather clothes, making them water repellent." Staying dry by using a greased outer layer seems a ...


8

The Romans for the most part didn't expand because there was nice productive land they'd like to colonize. They expanded for political reasons. For example, North West Africa was originally part of Carthage. After the Punic wars, the Romans simply gifted most of it to their allies/clients, the native Berber kings of Numidia and Mauretania. Both eventually ...


8

Peter Laurisden mentions "seven priests" among the first detachment that left with Bering from St. Petersberg in 1733. On the same page he also describes a "list of names of those engaged", but I am unable to find this list.


8

I've not found an English travel journal yet, but Captain Trivier took about seven weeks from France in 1887. https://books.google.com/books?id=kN4_AAAAYAAJ&pg=PA6#v=onepage&q&f=false This is an account of Captain Trivier's trip to Congo in the late 1880s. He left France on August 20, 1888 (port not given) in the steamer Nerthe, and arrived in ...


8

The Egyptian/Phoenician circumnavigation of Africa you refer to is recorded by Herodotus: For Libya shows clearly that it is encompassed by sea, save only where it borders on Asia; and this was proved first (as far as we know) by Necos king of Egypt. He, when he had made an end of digging the canal which leads from the Nile to the Arabian Gulf, sent ...


7

Wikipedia has an article called List of countries and islands by first human settlement. The latest by continuous habitation is Crozet Islands, which was discovered in 1772 but was only intermittently inhabited (by sealers) until 1963 with the establishment of the Alfred Faure research station. However it is part of France, which is obviously much older. ...


7

"Was it a continuous and extensive trade network with political interactions like in the ancient Mediterranean?" No. Unlike the Mediterranean, trade is much more marginal in Polynesia. The problem is that all of the islands pretty much all had the same resources. Now, within the same island chain, there was potential for specialisation in comparative ...


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