Balboa, facts about Balboa
Vasco Nunez de Balboa, a Spanish
explorer, was the first European to reach the Pacific Ocean
from the Atlantic Ocean. He arrived there in 1513.
With a party of about 190 Spaniards and
800 Indians, Balboa first sighted the Pacific on September
25, 1513. Four days later, the party reached the Pacific
coast at the Gulf of San Miguel. Balboa named the sea the
Mar del Sur (South Sea) and claimed it and the coasts it
touched for Spain.
Balboa was born in Jerez de Los
Caballeros, in western Spain. In the early 1500s, he settled
on the island of Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican
Republic). An unsuccessful farmer, Balboa was soon in debt.
To escape his creditors in 1510, he hid in a cask on board a
ship. The ship was taking soldiers to a colony on the
Colombian coast. When they arrived, they found that Indians
had driven away most of the colonists. Balboa suggested that
the expedition should move to Panama, where they founded a
settlement called Darien. Balboa took command and became
Indians told Balboa about the sea to the
west. When he heard that the king was sending a new governor
to Darien, Balboa set off to find the sea. Following his
discovery, he was made governor of the South Sea and Coiba.
His success was resented by Darien's new governor, who
managed to have Balboa's governorship taken away.