hidden europe 59

Mapping America

by hidden europe

Picture above: Image © Ievgenii Tryfonov / dreamstime.com


How did America get its name? Amerigo Vespucci, of course. But the Florentine merchant never himself suggested that the continent be named after him. It's all down to a cartographer in the Vosges.

The Vikings, the Genoese adventurer Christopher Columbus and the Florentine merchant Amerigo Vespucci all wrote accounts of exploratory journeys to the New World. It was Vespucci’s reports and sketches upon which the Vosges cartographer Martin Waldseemüller drew in preparing his atlases and it is those maps which were the first to correctly show the Americas as being bounded by ocean on both the western and the eastern side, rather than imagining the New World as being the easternmost part of Asia. This was quite remarkable at a time when the existence of the Pacific Ocean was unknown to western explorers and cartographers. And it was Waldseemüller who coined the name America.

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