Who found the Americas?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There are several possible answers to this question. First, there were already indigenous inhabitants living in the Americas when the Europeans arrived. Thus, the Europeans were not the first to "find" America in that sense.

Second, Leif Erikson became the first European to sail to America during his voyage in 1000 AD. He called the land (probably Newfoundland) "Vinland" and the Norse established a settlement there. However, this settlement failed, so the Vikings abandoned America and returned to Greenland.

Finally, Christopher Columbus discovered America on October 12, 1492 while trying to find a western passage to India. His discovery prompted the first permanent European settlement of the New World, which is why he has generally received more credit for his discovery than Erikson has for his.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team