In the fifteenth century people knew only three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa. They knew nothing about such a big continent as America.
The man who discovered America was born in 1451 in Italy. His name was Christopher Columbus. He became sailor at an early age. Knowing that the earth was round, he decided to reach India sailing to the west. He tried to arrange an expedition but did not have money, and nobody wanted to help him.
At last the king of Spain gave him money for the expedition. He sat a sail in 1492. The voyage was very dangerous and difficult. On the 12th of October his ship reached the land.
When they landed, they saw strange trees and flowers. Men and women with olive-coloured skins gathered around the sailors and looked at them with great surprise. Columbus was sure that he had discovered a new way to India.
Some time later another sailor reached that land. His name was Amerigo Vespucci. He understood that it was a new continent. Thus, the continent was named after him.
Christopher Columbus (above) - Portrait by Alejo Fernández, painted between 1505 and 1536.
Portrait of Amerigo Vespucci (below) – author unknown.
You can read more about Columbus here.
More on Vespucci – here.