The Most Influential
People in History
Everyone remembers that Christopher Columbus discovered the New World and Marco Polo went to China. Most recall that Hernán Cortés defeated the Aztecs of Mexico and Francisco Pizarro conquered the Incas of Peru. But who was ultimately more influential in shaping world history?
This section reveals the key individuals in the history of exploration. More than that, it ranks all of them in influence. It clearly explains why Columbus did more than any other explorer in shaping our world and how twenty-seven others made major contributions.
Here you are introduced to mariners including Ferdinand Magellan, Vasco da Gama, Pedro Cabral, and James Cook, sailing across the oceans to discover new lands. This section includes individuals who contributed to the field of exploration like Ptolemy and John Harrison, who invented a watch that measured time accurately at sea. This allowed mariners to calculate correctly their longitude on Earth. The discoverers that follow traversed the globe until eventually the whole world was known and mapped. Expanding beyond the land masses of Earth are Jacques Cousteau, showing us the world of the oceans, and the Piccard family, descending to the deepest point in the ocean and ascending into the stratosphere as high as 55,563 feet. Neil Armstrong and Yuri Gagarin reached the final frontier, outer space.
Ranking by Influence and Chronologically
(Click on the column headings to re-sort the list.)
Islamic Traveler and Author
Exploration Ranking 20th of 26
Exploration Ranking 12th of 26
Genoese (Italian) Navigator and Explorer for Spain
Exploration Ranking 1st of 26
Overall Ranking 2nd out of 500
New Zealand Mountaineer and Explorer (Hillary) and Nepalese
Exploration Ranking 26th of 26
1884 – 1962
Exploration Ranking 24th of 26
Greek Astronomer, Mathematician and Geographer
Exploration Ranking 9th of 26
i.e. Bird Woman in Hidatsa language
(William Clark’s pronunciation as written in his journal)
American Indian Interpreter and Guide
Exploration Ranking 25th of 26
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