BERLIN -- Researchers in Germany have chanced upon a rare early 16th century map of America by the cartographer who named the continent.

Munich's Ludwig Maximilian University said Tuesday that library staff had found a copy of the small map by Martin Waldseemueller wedged inside an unrelated 19th century book.

The 38 centimeter by 27.5 centimeter (15 inch by 10.8 inch) sheet is one of only five known copies of the map that can be folded to resemble a globe.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a similar but much larger map to the United States in 2007 to mark the 500th anniversary of the naming of America.

Waldseemueller believed Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci, rather than Christopher Columbus, was the first European to discover America and named the continent after him.

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  • A 500-year old world map by cartographer Martin Waldseemueller of Freiburg Mueller (1470-1522) is on display at the University Library in Munich on Tuesday, July 3, 2012. (Lukas Barth/DAPD)

  • A 500-year old world map by cartographer Martin Waldseemueller of Freiburg Mueller (1470-1522) is on display at the University Library in Munich on Tuesday, July 3, 2012. (Lukas Barth/DAPD)

  • A 500-year old world map by cartographer Martin Waldseemueller of Freiburg Mueller (1470-1522) is on display at the University Library in Munich on Tuesday, July 3, 2012. (Lukas Barth/DAPD)

  • Gerlinde Brandenburger-Eisele holds the oldest map showing "America" in the Ritterhausmuseum (Museum of the Knight) in Offenburg, southern Germany, Friday, Nov. 3, 2006. (AP Photo/Winfried Rothermel)

  • Gerlinde Brandenburger-Eisele points at the the oldest map showing 'America' in the Ritterhausmuseum (Museum of the Knight) in Offenburg, southern Germany, Friday, Nov. 3, 2006. (AP Photo/Winfried Rothermel)