On this day… In 1513, Vasco Núñez de Balboa discovered what was referred to as, the “South Sea” (Pacific Ocean).
On September 1, 1513, Balboa led an expedition in search of gold with about 200 Spaniards and many natives. On the journey across the isthmus of Panama, Balboa encountered many obstacles such as jungles, mountain terrain, and hostile native tribes. He was able to defeat these many hostile tribes throughout the journey without losing a single man.
On September 25th, Balboa went ahead of the group and climbed to the peak of a mountain by himself. From this summit, he was able to first lay eyes on the South Sea. Four days later, Balboa and his men reached the waters and claimed all of the ocean and its shores for Spain. The men were so proud of the sighting that they erected stone pyramids and engraved crosses on nearby trees to mark the place of exploration. This discovery opened the door for increased Spanish exploration along the coast of South America.
For more information on Vasco Núñez de Balboa, check out the Discovery Education video segment titled, “Vasco Nunez de Balboa”!