Explorers of the oceans
In the 1st millennium three people excelled all other as navigators of world oceans: the Vikings, the Arabs ,and the Polynesians. The traders and raiders of Scandinavia created the fast, efficient Viking longship ,which took them along the rivers of Russia to the Black Sea ,and across the Altantic Ocean to Iceland and South America. The Arabs were already accomplished seafares ; the discovery in the 8th century of the sea route to China via the Strait of Malacca heralded a new era of long-distance trade ,and Arabs ships sailed to the East Indies, East Africa, and China. Perhaps the most extraordinary seafarers of all were the Polynesians, who by 1000 ce had completed the colonization of all the islands of the pacific.
The Viking world
Harsh northern condition drove the Vikings to sail in search of new lands and resources. At first they dominated their Baltic neighbours taking tribute in the form of amber, wax, fish, ivory, and furs. Norwegians and Danes exploited weakness in France ,England and Ireland ,using their fast easily navigable longships to conduct lightning raids, exacting tribute ,conquering ,and colonizing . Eventually ,in a quest for land ,they crossed the Altantic ,reaching Iceland in 860 and Newfoundland c . 1000. Swedish traders penetrated the navigable rivers of Russia to dominate the lucrative trade with Constantinople and Arab World.
Varangians (as these Eastern Vikings were called) founded Kievan Rus ,the first Russian state and there fighting qualities were recognized by the Byzantine emperors ,who employed them as their elite mercenary guard.
The first wave of colonization of the Pacific .between 2000 and 1500 BCE took settlers from New Guineaand the neighbouring islands as far as the Fiji Islands. From there they sailed on to the Tonga and Samoa groups. In about 200BCE ,the Polynesians embarked on a series of far longer voyages ,crossing vast tracts of empty ocean to settle the Marquesas, the Society Islands, Hawaii .Rapa Nui(Easter Island), and Newzealand .By about 1000 CE they had discovered almost every island in the Pacific. They sailed in double –hulled canoes, laden with seed plants .chickens and pigs. The canoes could tack into the wind ,and they probably navigated by observing the sun and the stars, the direction of prevailing winds, and the flight patterns of homing birds.