There are few trees on the island, for most of the valuable indigenous trees have been practically exterminated, such as the sandalwood, which the earlier navigators found one of the most valuable products of the island.
Abroad its navigators monopolized the commerce of the world, and explored unknown seas; at home the Dutch school of painting reached its acme in Rembrandt (1607-1669); and the philological reputation of the country was sustained by Grotius, Vossius and the elder Heinsius.
The record of his voyage is interesting from the fact that he was the first to carry back to Europe an authentic account of the western coast of Australia, which he described in any but favourable terms. It is to Dutch navigators in the early portion of the 17th century that we owe the first really authentic accounts of the western coast and adjacent islands, and in many instances the names given by these mariners to prominent physical features are still retained.
The European country which had come the most completely under the influence of Arab culture now began to send forth explorers Spanish to distant lands, though the impulse came not from the Moors but from Italian merchant navigators in Spanish explora- service.
In the same year Alonso de Ojeda, accompanied by Juan de la Cosa, from whose maps we learn much of the discoveries of the 16th century navigators, and by a Florentine named Amerigo Vespucci, touched the coast of South America somewhere near Surinam, following the shore as far as the Gulf of Maracaibo.