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History

Post-Columbian Explorers

The next European to reach the continent was Portuguese navigator Pedro Alvares Cabral. In April 1500 a fleet under his command anchored off the coast of present-day Brazil, which he claimed for Portugal. The Portuguese, who had meanwhile found their way to India by sailing around Africa, paid little attention for three decades to the territory found by Cabral. During this period the Spanish steadily intensified explorational and colonizing activities in the New World, devoting most of their effort during the first 20 years to the West Indies and Central America. Various explorers, chiefly navigators in the service of Spain, visited the northeastern coast of the continent in the early years of the 16th century. Noteworthy among these men were Spanish mariners Vicente Yanez Pinzon, Alonso de Ojeda, and Pedro Alonso Nino; Spanish navigator and geographer Juan de la Cosa; and Italian-born navigator Amerigo Vespucci. Late in 1519 Portuguese mariner Ferdinand Magellan, then seeking a westward route to the East for the Spanish monarchy, explored the estuary of the Rio de la Plata. He resumed his search in the next year, cruising southward. On November 28, 1520, having completed the passage of the strait that now bears his name, he simultaneously accomplished his mission and realized the dream of countless navigators.

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