Famous Explorers


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Pytheas (380 310 BC), Greek: first to circumnavigate Great Britain and to explore Germany; reached Shetland Islands or Iceland.

Xu Fu (255 - 200 BC), Chinese: sailed to Japan.

Zhang Qian (2nd century BC), Chinese: imperial envoy to Central Asia who helped establish the Silk Road.

Saint Brendan of Clonfert (484 577), Irish: allegedly discovered Iceland and America in the 6th century.

Dicuil (8th century), Irish: the author of the De mensura orbis terrae which contains the earliest clear description of a settlement in Iceland and the freshwater canal between the Nile and the Red Sea.

Ahmad ibn Fadlan (10th century), Arab: provided a description of the Volga Vikings, including an eye-witness account of a ship burial.

Erik the Red (9501003), Norwegian Viking: after being cast out from Iceland, he sailed to Greenland and settled there.

Leif Ericson (9801020), Icelandic: believed to have been the first European to land in North America.

Friar Julian (13th century), Hungarian: was the first European traveler who gathered valid information on Asia.

Marco Polo (12541324), Venetian: travelled through Central Asia and China and apparently met Kublai Khan (the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire).

Ibn Battuta (1304 - 1368), Muslim Moroccan: visited most of the known Islamic world, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and China.

Wang Dayuan (13111350), Chinese: sailed along the South China Sea and visited many places like Sri Lanka and India; visited also North Africa and East Africa.

James of Ireland (1316 - 1330), Irish: was the companion of Odoric of Pordenone (an important Italian traveler) on his travels to Sumatra and China.

Odoric of Pordenone (1286 1331), Italian: wrote an important account of his visit to China.

Simon FitzSimon (14th century), Irish: author of a itenerum through Egypt and the Holy Land.

Zheng He (13711433), Chinese: made seven voyages to Arabia, East Africa, India, Indonesia and Thailand.

Afanasy Nikitin (15th century), Russian: one of the first Europeans to travel to and document his visit to India.

Joao Fernandes Lavrador (1445 1501), Portuguese: First European reaching Labrador Peninsula (today eastern Canada) and charted some coasts of Greenland and North America.

John Cabot (14501499), Italian: Discovered Newfoundland (a large Canadian island off the east coast of North America) and claimed it for the Kingdom of England.

Bartolomeu Dias (14501500), Portuguese: sailed from Portugal and reached the Cape of Good Hope (Cape Peninsula, South Africa.).

Christopher Columbus (14511506), Italian: discovered the "New World" (America) on behalf of King Ferdinand of Spain in 1492.


Explorers - Elementary/Middle School Level
Notable Explorers - Fact Monster
Explorers - Enchanted Learning
European Explorers - Sharon Amolo
Conquistadors - PBS
Virtual Exploration Society
Explorers of Australia and Nearby Islands - Enchanted Learning
People of the West - PBS

Explorers - Middle/High School Level
List of Explorers - Wikipedia
Explorers Heroes
South-Pole Exploration
Captain Cook Society
Arctic Exploration and History - All Things Arctic

Explorers - High/High+ School Level
Voyages: Scientific Circumnavigations 1679-1859 - An Exhibit of Rare Books from the Linda Hall Library
American Journeys: Eyewitness Accounts of Early American Exploration and Settlement - Wisconsin Historical Society
American Notes: Travel in America, 1750-1920 - Library of Congress
Mountain Men and the Fur Trade - American Mountain Men

Exploration and Explorers Timelines
Ocean Exploration Timeline
Lunar Exploration Timeline - NASA
Timeline of Explorers

Explorers and Exploration on Stamps and Images
NOAA Photo Library - The Antarctic
South-Pole Exploration Philately
Explorers and Adventurers - Find a Grave
Arctic Explorers: Commemorative Stamps - matthewhenson.com
Captain James Cook Through Stamps
Illustrious Portuguese Navigators - Home Page

Trivia and Humor
Historical Figures: Explorers - Fun Trivia
Early European Explorers Quiz


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