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Biographies Unit Biographies

Vasco Núñez de Balboa 1475-1519
Spanish Explorer

About 500 years ago, explorers sailed from their home countries to find riches. Vasco Núñez de Balboa (VAHS koh NOON neehz deh Balh BOH ah) left Spain and sailed to South America. He searched for pearls. Later Balboa and other Spaniards started the colony of Darién in South America.

American Indian leaders told Balboa of a large sea nearby. In 1513, Balboa and his men wanted to find the sea. They climbed over mountains. They walked through land covered with trees and vines. One day at the top of a mountain, Balboa looked out and saw a large ocean. It was the Pacific Ocean. He became the first European to see the eastern shore of the Pacific Ocean.

Comprehension Check

What did Balboa do that no other European explorers had done before?

Critical Thinking

Do you think Balboa's discovery of the Pacific Ocean helped Spain? Explain.