Pedro Alvares Cabral discovered Brazil on April 22, 1500, during an expedition to India. He became the first European to set foot in Brazil and claimed the new land for King Manuel I of Portugal, who was financing his trip.
Upon leaving Portugal in March of 1500, Cabral and his 13 ships followed the same route as Vasco da Gama. Discovering Brazil, Cabral originally thought the land was an island and named it the Island of Vera Cruz, or Island of the True Cross. The territory was renamed Brazil when Portuguese merchants began to refer to it as Terra de Brasil due to the abundance of brazilwood.