Audience versions of this page: FamilyOn May 20, 1498, Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama landed in what is now Kozhikode, India. Da Gama was the first European to reach the lucrative trade centers of India by sea.Portugal and other European empires had been trading with communities in India and throughout Southeast Asia for centuries. The legendary Silk Road was an overland trade route that linked the fabled spice markets of the east with the bustling commerce of the west. However, traveling through disputed territories in the Mediterranean Sea and Arabian Peninsula was dangerous and time-consuming.Da Gama and his fleet used well-traveled routes to navigate down the western coast of Africa. After re-supplying in the Canary Islands, da Gama took a chance and sailed west into the Atlantic Ocean—the opposite direction of where he wanted to go. He took advantage of the strong, reliable winds called Westerlies to quickly steer him to the southern coast of Africa. Da Gama and his fleet rounded the Cape of Good Hope in December 1497, and named the nearby coast Natal, after the Portuguese word for Christmas. (The South African province of KwaZulu-Natal retains this name today.) Da Gama established poor relations with leaders in what are now the coasts of Mozambique and southern Kenya—the Europeans became pirates of Arab trading ships in the region.In what is now the port of Malindi, Kenya, da Gama met and interacted with Indian merchants and sailors. They advised him on the favorable monsoon winds of the western Indian Ocean. In fact, da Gama actually hired an experienced Indian navigator to guide his fleet to the trade center of Calicut (now known as Kozhikode).Da Gama’s sea route to India allowed Portugal to establish a rich trade with India and southeast Asia. Portugal was also able to expand its empire to include provinces from India (centered around the state of Goa, whose largest city is Vasco da Gama) to China (the island of Macau).
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry bustling Adjective
edge of land along the sea or other large body of water.
Encyclopedic Entry: coast commerce Noun
trade, or the exchange of goods and services.
debate or argument.
group of nations, territories or other groups of people controlled by a single, more powerful authority.
to form or officially organize.
person who studies unknown areas.
traditional short story that usually has a moral lesson.
positive or encouraging.
group of ships, usually organized for military purposes.
famous, heroic, or celebrated.
profitable or money-making.
central place for the sale of goods.
person who sells goods and services.
seasonal change in the direction of the prevailing winds of a region. Monsoon usually refers to the winds of the Indian Ocean and South Asia, which often bring heavy rains.
Encyclopedic Entry: monsoon navigate Verb
to plan and direct the course of a journey.
thief who steals from ships or ships' crews while at sea.
place on a body of water where ships can tie up or dock and load and unload cargo.
Encyclopedic Entry: port province Noun
division of a country larger than a town or county.
Encyclopedic Entry: province reliable Adjective
dependable or consistent.
Silk Road Noun
ancient trade route through Central Asia linking China and the Mediterranean Sea.
tasty and aromatic plant substances used in cooking.
to guide or direct.
buying, selling, or exchanging of goods and services.
trade route Noun
path followed by merchants or explorers to exchange goods and services.
Westerlies Plural Noun
winds blowing from the west across the mid-latitudes.