Explorers and exploration

Where can I find information about famous explorers and where they explored?

Image: [Lac Blanc, Chamonix, France ] by Nicolas Cool on Unsplash.

Entry last updated: 11/03/19

Introduction

Over time explorers have travelled widely to visit undiscovered parts of the world. There have been many periods of exploration from the Ancient Greeks and Romans, to the Chinese and Vikings, and the European Age of Exploration. More recently, exploration has extended to include space and the deep sea.

Famous explorers

Here is a list of some well-known explorers, but there are many more:

Abel Tasman (1603 to 1659)

Buzz Aldrin (1930 - )

Christopher Columbus (1451 - 1506)

David Livingstone (1813 - 1873)

Edmund Hillary (1919 - 2008)

Ernest Shackleton (1874 - 1922)

Ferdinand Magellan (c1480 - 1521)

Francis Drake (c1540 - c1596)

James Cook (1728 - 1779)

John Cabot (c1450 - c1499)

Marco Polo (1254 - 1324)

Roald Amundsen (1872 - 1928)

Walter Raleigh (1554 - 1618)

History of exploration

Online encyclopedias give a good overview of the history of exploration around the world.

DKFindOut!

This site is from the publisher of lots of educational books, so we should be able to trust the information.

  • Go to the History section.
  • Choose Explorers.

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

This is an excellent starting point for all questions about New Zealand Aotearoa.

  • Enter 'exploration' in the search box.
  • Results include Māori, British and European expeditions.

New Zealand has been visited by explorers from many countries.

  • Try searching for 'European discovery of New Zealand'.
  • This will bring up information about Abel Tasman and James Cook as well as the French explorers.
  • Remember to check out the external links and sources for extra information.
Tips: We like sites that are from government or other reputable organisations, because we can trust the information. If you scroll down to the bottom of the page you can see this site is from the New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

Britannica School

This is one of the EPIC resources, a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics.

  • Choose the level that you would like to use.
  • Search using the keyword 'exploration'.
  • This gives a general definition of exploration, and you will also find links to earth, space and ocean exploration.

Student Resources in Context

Another EPIC resource, this site has information about the exploration of particular countries.

  • Select the Geography category, and then the country/region.
  • Each introduction has a 'history' section that includes exploration.
Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

Lives of explorers

Try these sites to find out about the lives of explorers and how they became interested in exploration.

Biography.com

This website has biographies (life stories) of lots of people from history as well as people who are alive now.

Tips: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About or Contact us links on the website, if you can find them. That can tell you what the company’s mission and values are.

Biography in Context

This is one of the EPIC resources and has information about the lives of many different people. In each entry there is an in-depth summary, with links to more information.

  • On the front page, to go the box called World Explorers.
  • Choose the person you want to find out about.

World History in Context

Another EPIC resource, this site has lots of information about events and people in world history.

  • Try your keyword 'explorers'.
  • Look at the list of content on the right of the page and choose Biographies.

Both of these EPIC resources give an indication about the 'level' of each article. You can see this by hovering over the coloured symbol next to the entry title.

Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

Australian Dictionary of Biography

This site has information about many people who have explored parts of Australia.

  • Enter the keyword 'explorers' and choose from the results.
  • You can also choose to search using an explorer's name.
  • Each entry has facts about that person's life, as well as further reading.
Tips: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have either .govt or .edu, meaning they are from government or educational organisations.

Exploration now

Although exploration continues in the more remote parts of the earth, attention has turned to exploring space and underwater.

Virtual Reference Library

This is one of the EPIC resources and a good resource to use for finding information on recent exploration.

As a starting point use the key words 'underwater exploration' and 'space exploration'.

Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

NASA For Students

This is a site about space that is especially for students. Use the Topics and Missions tabs at the top of the page to find about their space exploration.

Ocean Portal

This site belongs to the Smithsonian Institute and is a reliable source of information. Use the tabs Planet Ocean and Human Connections for more information on deep sea exploration.

Tips: We like sites that are from government or other reputable organisations, because we can trust the information. You can sometimes tell these sites by their web address – they might have .gov or .edu in their address – or by looking at their About us or Contact pages.

Books

There have been many books written about exploration, and biographies of explorers.

Here are some suggested titles, but remember to check with your local public or school library for others:

SCIS no: 1839734
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