Top 10
of the world

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Top 10 rankings

James Cook (left photo)
Christopher Columbus (right photo)
Ferdinand Magellan
Vasco de Gama
Marco Polo
Francis Drake
Roald Amundsen
Gan Ying
Amerigo Vespucci
Ibn Battuta


Top 10
explorers in brief

James Cook

1728-1779. England.   Captain Cook (left photo) discovered many Pacific islands during three expedition voyages. He was the first to cross the Antarctic Circle.

Christopher Columbus

1451-1506. Italy.   Columbus (right photo) accidentally discovered the New World while seeking a westward Europe-to-Asia route on behalf of Spain.

Ferdinand Magellan

1480-1521. Portugal.   Though he was killed en route, his crew completed the first round-the-world voyage.

Vasco de Gama

1460-1524. Portugal.   He was the first navigator to sail around Africa's southern tip to India.

Marco Polo

1254-1324. Italy.   He enlightened Europe about Asia by writing about his firsthand Asian experiences.

Francis Drake

1540-1596. England.   He discovered, charted, and claimed for England numerous Pacific and Atlantic islands.

Roald Amundsen

1872-1928. Norway. He was the first human to reach the South Pole.

Gan Ying

Unknown. China. In the year 97, this Chinese military ambassador sailed to create diplomatic ties with the Roman Empire. He reached as far as the Persian Gulf.

Amerigo Vespucci

1454-1512. Italy. He explored and mapped the South America coast. The Americas were named in his honor.

Ibn Battuta

14th century. Morocco.   The century before Europe's Age of Discovery, this Arab explored North Africa and Central Asia - and wrote about his journeys.

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