European exploration, or the Age of Discovery, occurred mostly from the 15th to 18th centuries. It began with the Portuguese exploration of West Africa and the Spanish exploration of the Americas. This exploration greatly expanded Europe's power and land through its colonial powers and increased its resources and trading abilities.
The connection of Europe, Asia, and Africa to the Americas created a new trade route known as the Columbian Exchange: the transfer of plants, animals, food, humans (slavery), diseases, and cultures between the east and west. Trade routes to India and China, notably for spices, were also discovered. Eventually the Pacific Ocean was also explored in search of gold. In addition to increasing European power and resources, it also led to increased knowledge of the world and the first world maps.