European explorers influential in discovering the New World

Christopher Columbus 1492, discovers America for Europeans: Although Columbus was not the first explorer to reach the Americas from Europe (being preceded by the Norse led Leif Erikson), the voyages of Columbus molded the future of European colonization and encouraged European exploration of foreign lands for centuries to come.

John Cabot, discovered the North Eastern coast of North America under the English flag in 1497: Like other Italian explorers, including Christopher Columbus, Cabot was commissioned by another country, and in Cabot's case it was England. Once Henry the Navigator began began searching for a route around Africa, the Iberian peninsula(Portugal and Spain) began to attract Italian navigational talent, especially after Columbus's discovery of "the Indies" (as all of Asia was called at that time) by sailing west. After that voyage , a number of explorers headed in that direction; Cabot had a simple plan, to start from the African port and head in a westerly direction.

Amerigo Vespucci sails under the Portugese flag in 1500 and explores the north eastern coast of South America: A Italian explorer who traveled and charted South America extensively, Amerigo Vespucci was the first person to believe and prove that South America extended farther south than once thought raising the question of how large the New World was. It was finally concluded that the New World could be a continent. Amerigo's first name
is thought to be the basis of the name America (America being the feminized version of Amerigo).

Pedro Alvarez Cabral sailed for Portugal in 1500, discovering Brazil: Originally on a trade route to India, Pedro Alvarez Cabral (possibly unintentionally) sailed out to the Atlantic Ocean, where he finally came across a land form he thought to be a large island, which he claimed for Portugal. In actuality, Pedro Alvarez Cabral had landed on South America. The northeastern part of South America that he had landed on later would be known as Brazil.

Ponce de Leon was a Spanish explorer and the first governor of Puerto Rico under the Spanish Crown's decree. In 1513, Ponce de Leon led the of the first expeditions to Florida, (which he named, Florida meaning "place of Flowers" in Spanish) in search of gold and the mythic "Fountain of youth", both of which he did not find.

Hernan Cortes was a celebrated conquistador and explorer who, in 1519, successfully invaded and colonized Mexico, declaring it Spanish owned.

During 1519, Ferdinand Magellan a Portuguese explorer who unintentionally led one of the first voyages that would circumnavigated the globe.

One of the first Europeans to explore the area between New Found land and New york since the time of Norse Explorers , Giovanni de Verrazano sailed for the French flag in 1524 and discovered what later would become Narraganset bay and New York Harbor.

Francisco Pizzaro in 1532 brought about the fall of the Incan Empire of Peru, and installed the present day capital of Peru, Lima.

In 1535 the Spanish anthropologist and explorer Cabeza de Vaca came to find the Gulf of Mexico while trying to reach Mexico itself. After many attempts, he finally reached the northern part of Mexico.

The first European known to have crossed the Mississippi river, Hernando de Soto sailed to the New World in 1514, hoping to reach China through the United States.

In 1540 the Spanish explorer Francisco Coronado, along with numerous priests and a full crew, stumbled upon the South western part of the United States, hoping to find Cibola, the famed city of Gold.

Pedro de Valdivia discovered Peru in 1540, acting as an lieutenant for Francisco Pizzaro.