Where Did The Name America Come From? Cool Continent Facts For Kids

Joan Agie
Oct 13, 2023 By Joan Agie
Originally Published on Oct 28, 2021
North America on the world map.

The word America comes from the name of the Italian explorer Americo Vespucci, who made at least two voyages to America.

The explorer names the land, where Christopher Columbus had taken his first voyage back in 1462, as America. European explorers, including Spanish explorers, undertook several voyages before they could land in America.

According to history, a map was created by the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller, who was the first to depict this new continent as 'America'. It is said to be a Latinized version of 'Amerigo'.

Though it was known to be established by the colonies, not many know that the Italian explorer, Amerigo Vespucci, was the first to set upon the groundbreaking concept of naming the lands that Christopher Columbus had taken his voyage to.

The map, created by Martin Waldseemüller back in 1507, named the new lands 'America'. It is said that, in the Library of Congress cartographic collections, the map is considered to be a crown jewel and is also known as 'America’s Birth Certificate'.

Since the time when the map was acquired in 2003, people still study it. Back in the 16th century, the map of this new continent, named America, was also said be an ambitious project in St. Dié, France.

It was created to update the geographic knowledge of late 15th century and early 16th century discoveries. Now, America is divided into two continents called South America and North America.

After reading about where did the name America come from and learning all about the naming of America, do check out where did Godzilla come from and where did the titans come from?

What was America called before it was discovered?

Like we discussed earlier, Christopher Columbus is the first name we think when it comes to the discovery of America.

Many people believe he was the first to land in America on his voyage. however, this is far from the truth. It was estimated and confirmed that Europeans were venturing westward to the New World before Columbus.

This was way before native Americans discovered Christopher Columbus sailing in 1492. Back in the early 1000s, the Vikings from Scandinavia took a shot at establishing a foothold on what they would call a Vinland. In 35,000 years, the first inhabitants of North America arrived and probably migrated from Asia.

The infamous long-haul migration that was undertaken by some of the first Americans in the world can be witnessed in the common language of Athabaskan. This language is shared by the people who settled in 7000 BC in Northwestern Canada and Alaska and the Navajos and Apaches of the southwestern United States.

After the ice age, the topographical diversity and warming climate of North America contributed immensely to the development of a wide variety of lifestyles and cultures.

Columbus called those that he encountered in the new world "Indios", thinking that he had arrived in Asia. This is how the word "Indian" came for indigenous Americans, by way of Columbus think that he was in south Asia.

A recent discovery was found in a Central Texas archaeological site that may have rewritten history.

In fact, scientists have confirmed that some of the artifacts that were found in the country are some of the oldest, newly-discovered artifacts in North America. This old human settlement goes back 15,000 years ago in North America.

Is America named after Mercia?

The name America came from Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian explorer.

In the year 1776, the Continental Congress formally declared to name the new country as the 'United States of America'. The general term used to be 'United Colonies' but 'United States' replaced this.

People who lived there were given the term 'American'. In 1776, a resolution was presented by Richard Henry Lee to Congress on June 7 and approved by July 2. The resolve that was issued was 'That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent States….'

Due to this, John Adams thought that July 2 would be perfect to celebrate the most memorable day in the history of America. However, this day was forgotten due to people's preference for of July 4, when the declaration of Independence by Jefferson’s edit was adopted.

These documents state that 'That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states.' Furthermore, Lee begun with the line whereas Jefferson saved it for the middle of his closing paragraph.

What did Native Americans call America?

There has been a myriad of terms used in the last 500 years to refer to indigenous Americans like Native American, American Indian, Eskimo, First Nation, Inuit, and Native Alaskan.

However, American Indians, the people who were a part of the new world of the world map, were referred to as cultures that were indigenous in nature of the Western Hemisphere.

Christopher Columbus was the one to come up with the world Indian by mistakenly assuming that he had reached the shores of South Asia.

The word America came when the German cartographer, Martin Waldseemüller, published a map that was named after Americo Vespucci. The word was thereafter appended to Indians in order to differentiate between those from south Asia and the indigenous peoples of these specific regions.

In the 60s, quite a lot of people rejected the term 'American Indians' in the United States and Canada as it was believed to be a racist connotation and a misnomer.

In the countries of Canada and the United States, the preferred phrase changed to 'Native American'. However, indigenous individuals referred to themselves as Indians and were living in the north of the Rio Grande.

Furthermore, at the end of the 20th century, people from around the world that were native started an initiative of encouraging others to use tribal self-names whenever it is possible.

Who really discovered America?

Christopher Columbus made four trips from Spain across the Atlantic Ocean where he wanted to find a water route that went west from Europe to Asia, instead of going around the huge continent of Africa. He never did. Though his logic was sound, his math was said to be faulty.

Instead of this, he stumbled across America. Although he had not specifically discovered the new world as millions of people were already living there, his journey was the beginning of the colonization of North and South America.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for where did the name America come from?

Cool continent facts for kids then why not take a look at where does curly hair come from? Curious human hair facts for kids, or bee vs yellow jacket: stinging insects differences explained for kids.

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Written by Joan Agie

Bachelor of Science specializing in Human Anatomy

Joan Agie picture

Joan AgieBachelor of Science specializing in Human Anatomy

With 3+ years of research and content writing experience across several niches, especially on education, technology, and business topics. Joan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Anatomy from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria, and has worked as a researcher and writer for organizations across Nigeria, the US, the UK, and Germany. Joan enjoys meditation, watching movies, and learning new languages in her free time.

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