January 1 (Friday)
Explorer Amerigo Vespucci was born March 9, 1451, (some scholars say 1454) in Florence, Italy. On May 10, 1497, he embarked on his first voyage. On his third and most successful voyage, he discovered present-day Rio de Janeiro and Rio de la Plata. Believing he had discovered a new continent, he called South America the New World. In 1507, America was named after him. He died of malaria in Seville, Spain, on February 22, 1512.