This year marks the 522nd anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s momentous voyage to the Americas. While he is often credited with having discovered the continent, it was Vasco da Gama who took his explorations to sea and reached India by doing so.
Columbus’s voyage was the first of its kind; there had never before been a successful crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. However, while his arrival in the Americas was indeed momentous, it only opened the doors to further exploration and trade with the region. In 1498, that exploration would begin in earnest with Vasco da Gama’s ambitious undertaking to India.
Gama’s journey was far more ambitious than Columbus’s discovery- he would have to successfully navigate around the Cape of Good Hope and make contact with numerous foreign leaders spanning six countries in order to portage his way eastward toward India- a journey of both physical and political distances. Columbus had ventured into unknown waters; Gama represented unprecedented travel over seas, reaching lands its travelers had never before gone.
Gama’s journey remains something of a marvel today. Not only did he open a new pathway for exploration by ship, but he also facilitated trade between countries- a connection that still exists between Portugal, India and many other countries today.
Christopher Columbus will always be remembered for his historic discovery, but Vasco da Gama deserves equal merit; without the Portuguese explorer, exploration of the East likely would have remained limited in scope for many more years.
It was a journey of discovery for the Europeans centuries ago, one that would change the course of history. Christopher Columbus is credited with discovering the Americas in 1492, while Vasco da Gama was the first European to reach India by sea four years later in 1498. These voyages had an incredible impact on the world, as they opened up trade routes, allowed for cultural exchange, and helped to spread colonists across the globe.
For Christopher Columbus, his voyage of discovery began when he set off from Spain in 1492 on an expedition funded by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. He eventually reached the Caribbean islands, believing them to be part of Asia, which led to his famous quote: “The ocean sea is now boundless; for I have passed it!” The voyage marked the first time Europe had encountered the indigenous populations of the Americas and jumpstarted a period of exploration and colonization.
Vasco da Gama’s expedition also began in Spain in 1497 as he set sail with the mission to find a new trade route from Portugal to India. After an arduous journey where da Gama rounded Africa’s Cape of Good Hope and sailed up along the coast of Mozambique and northwestward towards Calicut, India, he arrived there in late May 1498 and became the first European to reach India by sea. This voyage also led to a period of colonization and trading and served to enhance Europe’s relationship with this part of the world.
The discoveries of Christopher Columbus and Vasco da Gama are remembered as some of history’s great milestones in exploration, with both marking new pathways for global commerce and cultural exchange. Even though these voyages happened centuries ago, their legacies remain palpable in today’s world, shaping all our current geopolitical perimeters.