New World

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For other uses, see New World (disambiguation).
Carte d'Amérique, Guillaume Delisle, c. 1774
Carte d'Amérique, Guillaume Delisle, c. 1774

"The New World" is one of the names used for the American continents and adjacent islands collectively, in use since the 16th century. The Americas were at that time new to the Europeans, who previously thought of the world as consisting only of Europe, Asia, and Africa (the Old World). The term "New World" should not be confused with "modern world"; the latter generally refers to a historical period, not a landmass.

In recent decades, use of "New World" has been considered by some to be mildly offensive, due to the perceived implication that the European viewpoint is the only relevant or valid one. Thus, the term "New World" is now generally used only in limited contexts in some social circles. First, one might speak of the "New World" in a historical context, when discussing the voyages of Christopher Columbus, the Spanish conquest of Yucatán, etc. Second, in a biological context, one speaks of Old World and New World species.

Another interpretation of the term is that the "New World" is "new" in the context of all humanity; as humans have developed and lived in the Old World for a far greater length of time than the Americas have been inhabited; thus, it would be said the first migrants to colonise the Americans had reached the "New World".

While America is always described as "New World", Australasia can be described as either "Old World" or "New World" depending on the sphere of discourse, especially in the case of New Zealand as the first human settlement only happened a small number of generations before Colombus reached the Americas. In a biological context it is sometimes neither, since the species of Australasia differ markedly from both those of Eurasia and those of the Americas.

See also

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