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Word Count: 891
The explorations and accomplishments of Vasco da Gama changed Portugal from a poor nation to one of the worlds greatest powers His persona and exploits distinguished him as an influential pioneer who helped shape Portugal as a nation for the next 100 years Vasco da Gama was born sometime in the 1460s near the Portuguese capital of Lisbon Born into a wealthy and respected family of high-ranking soldiers Gama also trained to be a soldier although he was more interested in boats and navigation When Gama was appointed to man an African slave boat on a small mission he showed his skills as a navigator and was eventually promoted to captain Over time Gama became known as a talented navigator Gama set out on his most important journey on July 8 1497 sailing around the Cape of Good Hope to find a sea route to India Portugal was hoping to establish direct trade with India to avoid the high tariffs charged by Arabs who controlled trade throughout the Mediterranean at the time The lucrative spice trade would increase Portugals wealth immeasurably Gama consulted Bartolomeu Dias the only man to sail around the Cape about potential dangers and the most efficient way of circling the Cape Dias advised him to go in a large arc to avoid coastal tides and fierce storms He also told him One more thing Watch your men for mutiny If my own hadnt rebelled I might have reached India seven years ago Syme 21 This advice saved Gama time and prevented possible catastrophe Gama was at sea for over three months without seeing land the longest period ever experienced by a crew and was not threatened by mutiny This was because he had the trust and respec t of his crew without which he would have been unable to complete his mission to find the route to India Gama set off with four ships
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