Why is America named as it is and not named something like Columbia after Christopher Columbus?
It is alleged that when Columbus made landfall in what is now known as North America in 1492, he actually believed that all he had found was an unexplored and uncharted part of the Asian continent. He maintained this belief for the remainder of his life, he died in 1506.
Amerigo Vespucci, first made it to North America in 1497, he arrived on at least another three occasions as well. Unlike Columbus he believed that he had discovered a new land which he called the New World. He didn’t have the arrogance to name it in his honour.
However Vespucci often wrote to friends and family about his trips and included much about the so-called New World he had discovered. These letters were eventually published in book form. A copy of the book was owned by a German map maker, who subsequently made a decision to name Vespucci’s New World after the man himself. So why is it America and not Amerigo then? Well America is the feminine form of the name Apparently Asia and Europe are also a feminine derivations.
In a strange twist of fate, just as Columbus died without thinking he had discovered a new continent, Vespucci died without knowing that continent had been named after him.
Incidentally I wonder how things would have turned out if it had been named using Amerigo’s surname; would it now be the United States of Vespuccia?