How the name America came into being.

Ever wondered why europeans decided to call this continent America and not Columbia ?

Amerigo Vespucci after who America is named


The origins of the name America are most fixedly set with the use of the name on Waldseemullers 1507 world map. This map has been called the 'Birth certificate of America'. Before this date the land was most commonly referred to as the 'new world'. Wanting to give the continent a more definite name the makers of the 1507 map used the name America after Amerigo Vespucci. Amerigo became America since all the continents had feminine names and there seemed no reason to break with the tradition. 

The name quickly made its way into popular use and Europeans quickly started to refer to the continent as America as opposed to the new world. Many people ask at this point why was the name of Amerigo used as opposed to Columbia after Christopher Columbus. The main reason is that Columbus himself denied that the Americas were a new continent and stuck fast to his belief that he had discovered a Westward route to the Indies. Since Columbus was in denial of the simple fact that he had discovered a land unknown to Europeans the situation was open to somebody else to claim credit for the realization. Step forward Amerigo Vespucci terrible sailor incompetent navigator but great embelissher of the truth. 

Vespucci sailed to the Americas on at least two Portuguese expeditions and was never shy to proclaim the hardships and embellish acheivements of the trips. Most importantly since he was not part of the crew he was free to write about his journeys and he declared that this was in fact a new continent and not simply a part of Asia. 
full map article here.