The Great Explorers

Contemporary interest in the Arctic is growing fast, but this is not the first time that the region has caught the eye of the outside world. Ever since the end of the fifteenth century, sailors and governments alike have been intrigued by the possibility of discovering a navigable waterway that would connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and open up the vast markets of the Orient, which had been made so alluring by the story of the legendary Marco Polo. Any such route would have offered a far quicker and safer journey than the epic voyages around the Cape of Good Hope that, until the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, ships had always been forced to undertake.

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