The Modern World we live in exists in a state of cultural, political and economic globalization. During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries two nations, Portugal and Spain pioneered the European discovery of sea routes that became the first channels of interaction between all of the world's continents. Many factors influenced Western Europe's ability and desire to launch voyages of discovery; these include motivation, religion, technology, competition and luck. These expeditions had political, commercial, religious, diplomatic and intelligence gathering objectives. .
In the early fifteenth century the sea-faring countries of Europe were ready to expand their influence throughout the rest of the world through a program of continued and efficient exploration. In some cases the motivation for exploration was profit, in others the motive of exploration was to gain knowledge about the world. Still, other explorers justified their actions as an extension of the Crusades of Christianity against Islam. However, "European expansion was essentially a commercial venture" . Ogier Ghiselin de Besbecq, the sixteenth century diplomat wrote "that for the expeditions (to the Indies and the Antipodes) religion supplies the pretext and gold the motive" . .
Initially, exploration took the form of small-scale ventures that were financed mainly by independent businessmen. These early projects took the form of raid and trade excursions proving that exploration was profitable, and eventually European monarchs began to take a greater interest. Thus it can be said that exploration developed from careful, small-scale operations to a systematic approach that included royal sponsorship, significant capital and long-range planning. The Portuguese focused primarily on a trading empire while the Spanish were more interested in seeking a territorial empire they could colonise. .
Several factors contributed to Portugal becoming the European pioneer in maritime exploration, these included geographical position along the West coast of the Iberian Peninsula, a development of a complex maritime economy, the third factor that allowed Portugal to be a forerunner in exploration was its monarchy.