Vasco da Gama was a Portuguese explorer who is famous for being the first European explorer to reach India by sea, which he did in 1498. This was an incredible navigational
accomplishment for its time and enabled the Portuguese to reach India by sea as opposed to by land which was more difficult and dangerous. His voyage, one of the earliest in
Europe's "Age of Discovery", would lead to Portugal establishing a colonial empire in Asia and becoming a major world power. Below is a list of interesting facts about this
famous Portuguese explorer including information about how he made three voyages to India and who sent him on these voyages. Whether you are a kid writing a school paper or an
adult interested in this explorer we hope you find this information helpful.
Vasco da Gama Interesting Facts
He was born around 1460 AD in the small seaport town of Sines located in the south-west of Portugal.
Not much is known about the early life of Vasco da Gama besides the fact that he was born into a noble family.
Around 1480 AD he joined the Order of Santiago, which was a Christian military order.
His wife was Catarina de Ataide, together they had one daughter and six sons.
In 1488, prior to da Gama's first voyage to India, Portuguese explore Bartholomew Diaz had sailed down the western coast of Africa and around the southern tip of Africa into the Indian Ocean. Vasco da Gama's voyage was a follow-up to Diaz's great voyage with the purpose to find out if Asia could be reached after rounding the Cape of Good Hope (the
southern tip of Africa).
Vasco da Gama's First Voyage to India Facts
In 1497 King Manuel I of Portugal selected da Gama to lead a fleet to India for the purpose of finding a route from Europe to Asia. The king was interested in establishing trade
routes with Asia and establishing a Portuguese empire.
In July of 1497 AD da Gama set sail for India with a fleet of four ships and headed south along the west coast of Africa.
In late November 1497 his four ships sailed around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa and headed north along Africa's east coast making numerous stops along the
For the last leg of the voyage he crossed the Indian Ocean and arrived at Calicut (also known as Kozhikode) on the coast of India in May of 1498 AD.
Vasco da Gama and his crew spent three months in India and headed for home in August of 1498 AD.
The voyage home to Portugal was a difficult and long one; the explorers sailed through many storms and most of the crew died from various illnesses.
Vasco da Gama returned to Portugal from his first voyage to India in 1499 to a hero's welcome. He was also made an Admiral.
The total distance sailed by Vasco da Gama in his first voyage to India, including getting to India and back to Portugal, was the longest ocean voyage in world history up to
Of the 170 crew members who had begun the voyage only 54 survived; most, including Vasco da Gama's brother, died from scurvy and other illnesses.
Vasco da Gama's Later Voyages to India and His Death
In 1502 AD da Gama once again set sail for India at the bequest of King Manuel of Portugal; this time with 20 armed ships.
The purpose of his second voyage was to establish Portugal's authority over the trade route to India.
On his second voyage to India he was responsible for killing hundreds of people as he attacked numerous Muslim trading post and ships.
On his second voyage he also established trading post on the southeast coast of Africa in what is now Mozambiquey.
In 1524 Vasco da Gama set out for a third voyage to India.
The third voyage was at the request of King John III of Portugal for the purpose of dealing with corruption of the Portuguese officials stationed in India.
After arriving in Kochi (Cochin), on the south west coast of India, he became sick and died from an unknown illness on December 24th of 1524 AD.