Born: 1451 in Genoa, Italy - Died: May 20, 1506
Best known for: Discovering America
Sailing for: Spain
Biography: Christopher Columbus is the explorer who we credit for discovering America, even though there were already people living in the Americas. There were also several other voyages that reached America prior to Columbus, but it was his voyage that started the Age of Exploration and Colonization of the Americas.
Columbus' "discovery" led to an exchange of goods between the New World and Europe. The Europeans brought things like cattle, horses, citrus fruits, bananas and coffee and took back turkeys, pumpkins, tomatoes and potato among other things. But that wasn't all they exchanged.
Take a deeper look into what effect Columbus' "discovery" had on the Americas.
Born: 1491 in France - Died: September 1, 1557 in France
Best known for: Exploring the St. Lawerence River and naming Canada
Sailing for: France
Biography: In an effort to find the Northwest Passage (the route from Europe to Asia through North America, Jacques Cartier sailed up the St. Lawrence River to the Iroquoian capital of Stadacona. He reached the location of modern-day Montreal (then called Hochelaga) on October 2, 1535, where rapids prevented him from continuing. Cartier believed the rapids were the last obstacle in his discovery of the Northwest Passage. Today, the town on the banks of the rapids is called Lachine, the French word for China.
He named Canada after "kanata," the Huron-Iroquois word for settlement.
Born: 1510 in Spain - Died: September 22, 1554 in Mexico
Best known for: Exploring the American Southwest and finding the Grand Canyon
Sailing for: Spain
Biography: Francisco Vazquez de Coronado came to the America's looking for the Seven Golden Cities along the Pacific Ocean named Cibola. The cities were said to contain houses made out of gold and streets paved with gold. Coronado and a friend, Antonio Mendoza, invested large sums of money in the expedition. In 1540, Coronado, Mendoza, 335 Spaniards, 1300 natives, and four Franciscan monks headed north for the purposes of taking the gold from the Seven Cities of Cibola. He never found gold, but he did find the Grand Canyon.
After not finding gold, he was ordered back to New Spain (Mexico) where he died in disgrace.