Vasco da Gama was a Portuguese explorer who developed a sea route from Europe to India by sailing around the Cape of Good Hope, on the southern tip of Africa. Da Gama eventually served as the Portuguese viceroy in India.Continue Reading
In 1497, the Portuguese King Manuel I commissioned da Gama to sail on a voyage to India for the purpose of developing a practical alternative to the land route currently used. Da Gama set sail from Lisbon, first traveling along the western coast of Africa before sailing into the south Atlantic to avoid the poor currents on the south African coast.
After rounding the Cape of Good Hope in modern-day South Africa, da Gama sailed up the eastern seaboard of Africa, exploring the region in general and Mozambique, Mombasa and Malindi in particular. After veering east from the coast, da Gama sailed to India, reaching the coast near Calicut (also known as Kozhikode). Upon returning to Portugal, da Gama embarked on a second voyage to secure Portuguese interests in the region against Arab traders. Da Gama used force to secure a diplomatic agreement with Calicut.
Da Gama stayed in Portugal for the next 20 years. In 1524, he sailed to the Portuguese colony in Goa to manage the Portuguese administration in the region, where he fell ill and died within the year.Learn more about Exploration & Imperialism