Published in 1507 and composed of 12 individual sheets, Martin Waldseemüller's world map is the first known to bear the name, "America" in describing the New World.

Map Courtesy Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division

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  • On April 25, 1507, the term “America” was first used on a world map, referring to the huge mass of land in the Western Hemisphere. Martin Waldseemüller, a German cartographer, used the name “America” in honor of Italian navigator Amerigo Vespucci.
    Vespucci, in addition to being a friend of Christopher Columbus, was an avid traveler who described his travels in letters and journals. These letters, along with the works of the Greek geographer Ptolemy, helped Waldseemüller define the landmasses in his book Introduction to Cosmography. (Waldseemüller’s America actually identified what is today South America. “Parias” is the name Waldseemüller identified with what is today North America.) In addition to this book, Waldseemüller published 1,000 copies of a woodcut world map. Both the book and the map were widely regarded, and the term “America” was eventually universally accepted.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    avid Adjective


    cartographer Noun

    person who makes maps.

    geographer Noun

    person who studies places and the relationships between people and their environments.

    landmass Noun

    large area of land.

    map Noun

    symbolic representation of selected characteristics of a place, usually drawn on a flat surface.

    Encyclopedic Entry: map
    navigator Noun

    person who charts a course or path.

    Western Hemisphere Noun

    area of the Earth west of the prime meridian and east of the International Date Line.