Map: *Actual* European Discoveries


Columbus and his ocean-cruising colleagues were great at showing up late to the party and swaggering around like they owned the place, but every now and then, European explorers did bump into uncharted and uninhabited lands. Yale geography professor Bill Rankin has mapped these spots, mostly “diminutive islands that no human had ever seen before, along with extravagant amounts of ice and snow.” Today, just 0.05 percent of the world population, or 3.6 million people, live in these places. 

These islands make up roughly the area of Great Britain, or 0.14 percent of the land on Earth. But if you include the frozen expanses of land at the poles, the conquistadors can claim another 11 percent!

The map also reveals some interesting 16th-century geopolitics. The kaleidoscopes of color along the edges of the map show the spoils of whaling wars, Rankin writes, which led to a “free-for-all” land grab. The middle of the map is dominated by Portugal (green) and Spain (brown); Rankin would have readers recall the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas, which divvied up discoveries between the two imperial powers. Today, the population living on land (actually) discovered by Portuguese explorers comes to a whopping 3.4 million, far out performing Spain, with its measly 150,000. Vamos Portugal!

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate