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Gama, Vasco DA (1469–1524)

  • By: Susanna Servello
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Vasco da Gama was a Portuguese navigator and explorer and the first European who succeeded in reaching India after circumnavigating the African continent. He thus opened the way for new sea routes for trade and laid the foundations for the Portuguese Empire in Eastern Africa, India, and Indonesia, making his homeland for a period the main commercial leader in Europe.

At the time of da Gama's voyages, spices and herbs had enormous importance, and their maritime trade was controlled by the Venetians, Arabs, Persians, and Ottoman Turks; on the other hand, their transport via land was very expensive. For this reason, powerful Western European nations aimed to find an alternative direction to reach Asia by sea. In 1497, King Manuel I of Portugal charged da ...

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