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Waldseemüller, Martin (ca. 1470-ca. 1522)

  • By: George F. McCleary & Karen S. Cook
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

In 1507, on two maps of the world developed to accompany his Cosmographiae Introduction, Martin Waldseemüller included the name “America.” These maps were the first to use the name “America” for the southern part of the newly discovered Western Hemisphere, located in the middle of a land mass that would metamorphose during the 16th century into what we recognize today as South America.

The complete title of the first map, “Universalis cosmographia secundum Ptholomaei traditionem et Americi Vespucii alioru[m]que lustrations,” recognizes the work of the ancient Greek cartographer Claudius Ptolemy, as well as the reports of “discoveries” from 1497 to 1504 by the Italian navigator Amerigo Vespucci. It is not clear how much of the South American continent Vespucci actually visited, but his name was clearly ...

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