Why did people begin exploring?
For many hundreds of years, adventurous travelers have explored the far reaches of the earth. They traveled for many reasons: some were looking for new areas to trade with; others were looking for new areas to conquer, settle, and farm; some desired to spread their religion; and others hoped to achieve fame and become wealthy. Some of the earliest oceanic voyages were made by the Polynesians of New Guinea more than 3,500 years ago. They traveled the Pacific Ocean in small boats the size of canoes. Around this time, Egyptians sent their large trading ships to the land of Punt, south of Egypt at the tip of the Red Sea. Hanno the Navigator was one of the first known explorers. A Carthaginian explorer who lived about 450 B.C.E. Hanno was most well known for his naval exploration of the African coast. Around 1000 C.E. Leif Eriksson and his Viking explorers became the first Europeans to sail across the Atlantic Ocean to North America. These early explorers used ancient maps and the stars' position at night to guide them but they would often get lost or shipwrecked. It would take hundreds of years of trial and error before Italian-born explorer Christopher Columbus set sail from Spain in 1492, hoping to find a western sea route to China. Like other Europeans of his time, Columbus did not know that North and South America, and the islands of the West Indies, lay between Europe and China. When he landed in the West Indies, he believed it was part of China.