Old World

collectively Africa, Asia and Europe

The Old World is the three continents, Europe, Asia and Africa, whose people knew about each other from ancient times.[1]

     Old World
Map of the "Old World" (the Ptolemy world map in a 15th-century copy)

Humans originated in Africa, but modern history is mostly about European history. This is because Africa had a tribal population, but Europe had nations. For a long time "history" meant the history of Europe and the Middle East. That is still the kind of history which is taught in many schools.

People had no idea there were other continents, and no idea that those continents (the Americas and Australasia) had humans living there. Also, not much was known about Africa until the 19th century.

In 1492 Spain sent Columbus to the New World. They found Native Americans there. Then there was trade, but also warfare and some spreading of disease. They had foods and animals the Native Americans had not seen before, like sugarcane, pigs, and horses. But, they did not know that they were also giving sickness. The people of the Old World called the Americas the New World.

The other great saga was the discovery of Australia, New Zealand and Papua/New Guinea. This was done entirely by the British Royal Navy in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Both the Americas and Australasia had humans living there already, who were not known to Europeans before the voyages of discovery, as it is called.[2]


  1. "Definition of OLD-WORLD". www.merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 2022-07-29.
  2. This article is a broad overview. More information can be found on the pages linked in this article.