Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

How did America get its name? Amerigo Vespucci, of course. But the Florentine merchant never himself suggested that the continent be named after him. It's all down to a cartographer in the Vosges.

article summary —

The Vikings, the Genoese adventurer Christopher Columbus and the Florentine merchant Amerigo Vespucci all wrote accounts of exploratory journeys to the New World. It was Vespucci’s reports and sketches upon which the Vosges cartographer Martin Waldseemüller drew in preparing his atlases and it is those maps which were the first to correctly show the Americas as being bounded by ocean on both the western and the eastern side, rather than imagining the New World as being the easternmost part of Asia. This was quite remarkable at a time when the existence of the Pacific Ocean was unknown to western explorers and cartographers. And it was Waldseemüller who coined the name America.

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About the authors

hidden europe

and manage hidden europe, a Berlin-based editorial bureau that supplies text and images to media across Europe. Together they edit hidden europe magazine. Nicky and Susanne are dedicated slow travellers. They delight in discovering the exotic in the everyday.

This article was published in hidden europe 59.