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The Americas were also referred to as the "fourth part of the world". The terms " Old World " vs.

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One can speak of the "New World" in a historical context, e. For lack of alternatives, the term is also still useful to those discussing issues that concern the Americas and the nearby oceanic islands , such as Bermuda and Clipperton Island , collectively. Biological taxonomists often attach the "New World" label to groups of species that are found exclusively in the Americas, to distinguish them from their counterparts in the "Old World" Europe, Africa and Asia , e. The label is also often used in agriculture. Asia, Africa, and Europe share a common agricultural history stemming from the Neolithic Revolution , and the same domesticated plants and animals spread through these three continents thousands of years ago, making them largely indistinct and useful to classify together as "Old World".

Common Old World crops e. Conversely, many common crops were originally domesticated in the Americas before they spread worldwide after Columbian contact, and are still often referred to as " New World crops "; common beans phaseolus , maize , and squash — the " three sisters " — as well as the avocado , tomato , and wide varieties of capsicum bell pepper , chili pepper , etc. Other famous New World crops include the cashew , cocoa , rubber , sunflower , tobacco , and vanilla , and fruits like the guava , papaya and pineapple. There are rare instances of overlap, e.

In wine terminology , "New World" has a different definition. The term "New World" "Mundus Novus" was first coined by the Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci , in a letter written to his friend and former patron Lorenzo di Pier Francesco de' Medici in the Spring of , and published in Latin in —04 under the title Mundus Novus.

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Vespucci's letter contains arguably the first explicit articulation in print of the hypothesis that the lands discovered by European navigators to the west were not the edges of Asia, as asserted by Christopher Columbus , but rather an entirely different continent, a "New World". Having already visited the Americas in prior years, Vespucci probably found it difficult to reconcile what he had already seen in the West Indies , with what the returning sailors told him of the East Indies. Vespucci wrote a preliminary letter to Lorenzo, while anchored at Bezeguiche, which he sent back with the Portuguese fleet — at this point only expressing a certain puzzlement about his conversations.

After returning from Brazil, in the Spring of , Amerigo Vespucci composed the Mundus Novus letter in Lisbon to Lorenzo in Florence, with its famous opening paragraph: [5]. In passed days I wrote very fully to you of my return from new countries, which have been found and explored with the ships, at the cost and by the command of this Most Serene King of Portugal; and it is lawful to call it a new world, because none of these countries were known to our ancestors and all who hear about them they will be entirely new. For the opinion of the ancients was, that the greater part of the world beyond the equinoctial line to the south was not land, but only sea, which they have called the Atlantic; and even if they have affirmed that any continent is there, they have given many reasons for denying it is inhabited.

But this opinion is false, and entirely opposed to the truth. My last voyage has proved it, for I have found a continent in that southern part; full of animals and more populous than our Europe, or Asia, or Africa, and even more temperate and pleasant than any other region known to us. Vespucci's letter was a publishing sensation in Europe, immediately and repeatedly reprinted in several other countries. While Amerigo Vespucci is usually credited for coming up with the term "New World" Mundus Novus for the Americas in his letter, certainly giving it its popular cachet, similar terms had nonetheless been used and applied before him.

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The Venetian explorer Alvise Cadamosto had used the term "un altro mundo" "another world" to refer to sub-Saharan Africa , which he explored in and on behalf of the Portuguese. Cadamosto was quite aware sub-Saharan Africa was firmly part of the African continent. The Italian -born Spanish chronicler Peter Martyr d'Anghiera often shares credit with Vespucci for designating the Americas as a new world.

Christopher Columbus touched the continent of South America in his third voyage. In his own letter to the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, reporting the results of his third voyage, Columbus relates how the massive waters of the Orinoco delta rushing into the Gulf of Paria implied that a previously unknown continent must lie behind it.

The Vespucci passage above applied the "New World" label to merely the continental landmass of South America. Amerigo Vespucci attended both conferences, and seems to have had an outsized influence on them—at Burgos, he ended up being appointed the first piloto mayor , the chief of the navigation of Spain.

It was during these conferences when Spanish officials seem to have finally accepted that the Antilles and the known stretch of Central America were not the Indies they had originally sought while Columbus insisted that they were and set out the new goal for Spanish explorers: to find a sea passage or strait through the Americas which would permit them to sail to Asia proper.

While it became generally accepted after Vespucci that Columbus's discoveries were not Asia but a "New World", the geographic relationship between the two continents was still unclear. Given the size of the Earth as calculated by Eratosthenes this left a large space between Asia and the newly discovered lands.


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Even prior to Vespucci, several maps, e. However, out of uncertainty, they depicted a finger of the Asian land mass stretching across the top to the eastern edge of the map, suggesting it carried over into the western hemisphere e. Some maps, e.

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These maps place the island of Japan near Cuba and leave the South American continent — Vespucci's "New World" proper — detached and floating below by itself. But it would take a few more years until another Portuguese — Ferdinand Magellan 's voyage of —22 — determined that the Pacific definitely formed a single large body of water separating Asia from the Americas. It would be several more years before the Pacific Coast of North America was mapped, dispelling lingering doubts. Until the discovery of the Bering Straits in the 17th century, there was no absolute confirmation that Asia and North America were not connected, and some European maps of the 16th century still continued to hopefully depict North America connected by a land bridge to Asia e.

In , the term was used by Giovanni da Verrazzano in a record of his voyage that year along the Atlantic coast of North America , land that is now part of the United States and Canada. North America. South America. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see New World disambiguation. Collectively, the Americas and Oceania. Geography portal. Davidson Columbus Then and Now, a life re-examined.


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