Our view of the world is shaped by maps and atlases. But it took time to fill in all the white spots on the map. This was the merit of daring explorers for whom the edge of the known world was not a deadly boundary, but a springboard that opened up new possibilities. For example, the discovery of a sea route to the East Indies by Vasco da Gama first made Portugal rich and then the Dutch into global players. But our discoverers are also penetrating inhospitable worlds. At the North Pole, for example, Robert E. Peary had little to gain but frostbite and cold death – or fame and glory. And of course, the most famous discoverer is not missing from our ranking: Christopher Columbus. Even if he did not want to know anything about his true discovery until the end of his life.
WRITER: Martin Tönnessen EDITOR: Igor Garbuzenko COMMISSIONING EDITOR: Johannes Geiger (ZDF), Tina Weimar (ZDF)