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The New World is one of the names used for the non-Afro-Eurasian parts of the Earth, specifically the Americas and possibly Australia. When the term originated in the late fifteenth century, the Americas were new to the Europeans, who previously thought of the world as consisting only of Europe, Asia, and Africa (collectively, the Old World). The term "New World" should not be confused with "modern world"; the latter generally refers to a historical period, not a landmass.

Name origin

In 1492, Christopher Columbus returned from his first voyage to the Americas, stopping first in Portugalmarker and then traveling to Spainmarker. On 1 November that year Peter Martyr d'Anghiera referred to Columbus in a letter as the discoverer of "the New World" (novi orbis). In a subsequent letter a year later he again referred to "the New World" (orbo novo). In 1516, Martyr published a work whose title began De orbe novo ("On the New World).

In 1524, the term was also used by Giovanni da Verrazzano in a record of his voyage that year along the coast of what would later become the United Statesmarker and Canadamarker.

Currently, one might speak of the "New World" in a historical context when discussing the voyages of Christopher Columbus, the Spanish conquest of Yucat√°n, and other events contemporaneous to the term; additionally, the term "New World" is sometimes used in a biological context, when one speaks of Old World (Palearctic, Afrotropic) and New World species (Nearctic, Neotropic).

While the term "New World" always encompasses the Americas, the islands of Oceania may only be described as "New" in certain contexts. In a biological context, these islands are neither New World nor Old, as flora and fauna differ markedly from those of Eurasia, Africa and the Americas.

See also



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