The Age of Discovery, also known as the Age of Exploration, refers to the period from the beginning of the 15th century to the middle of the 17th century, when Europeans began to set sail to discover distant lands. It also marked the beginning of European colonialism and mercantilism, as well as the beginning of globalization.
Wikivoyage has itinerary articles for some of the greatest voyages of the Age of Discovery:
- Voyages of Columbus - Spain to the Caribbean, 1492
- Cape Route - Vasco da Gama, Portugal to India by going south around Africa, 1498
- Magellan-Elcano circumnavigation - around the world, by going south around South America, 1519-1521
These voyages made the first contacts between Europe and some of the areas explored, but not all areas. There had been trade between Europe and the East via the Silk Road for many centuries, and the Vikings reached North America around 1000 CE. Marco Polo's book, published around 1300, told of the riches of the East and strongly influenced later exploration.
Wikivoyage also has a number of articles on things that were influenced by European exploration and colonialism:
- Spanish Empire
- British Empire
- French Empire
- Atlantic slave trade
- Indigenous cultures of North America
- Indigenous cultures of South America
Many European missionaries travelled on the ships to distant lands in an effort to convert the natives. While there was some resistance, this is largely regarded as a success, as it eventually led to Christianity becoming the world's most prolific region; a position which it maintains today.