How did Columbus' voyage affect European exploration?

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Christopher Columbus's voyages to the New World profoundly altered European exploration. Before Columbus's voyage, most Europeans believed the only feasible route to India was sailing east around the tip of Africa. Indeed, this was the route Vasco da Gama eventually took between 1497 and 1499 to reach India. Columbus believed...

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Christopher Columbus's voyages to the New World profoundly altered European exploration. Before Columbus's voyage, most Europeans believed the only feasible route to India was sailing east around the tip of Africa. Indeed, this was the route Vasco da Gama eventually took between 1497 and 1499 to reach India. Columbus believed there was a western route to the East, so he set sail in 1492 to discover it. What Columbus did not realize was that there was a gigantic landmass—North and South America—sitting in his way. Columbus initially believed he had reached the East, but it was not long before explorers realized this was a new continent.

Nevertheless, Columbus' discovery of America caused European explorers to turn their focus to the West. First, explorers desired to explore the newly-discovered land and find out what riches it contained. They also desired to find a passage through the continent to reach the East. However, there was no feasible passage through the continent (other than sailing through the arctic), which is why the United States eventually financed the creation of the Panama Canal in the early 20th century.

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