Balboa, a Spanish conqueror and explorer

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Balboa, a Spanish conqueror and explorer.

Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, a Spanish conqueror and explorer, was the first to see the coast of the Pacific Ocean. He saw the ocean in September of 1513, from the top of a mountain of what is now Panama. On September 29, 1523, Balboa claimed it and all its shores for Spain. His findings opened Spanish explorations and conquests along the western coast of

South America began.

The Spanish called the ocean the South Sea because it lay south of the isthmus of Panama. In 1520 a Portuguese explorer named Ferdinand Magellan sailed through it and named it the Pacific, meaning peaceful, which until this day the name remains the same.

Balboa´s early life was a normal one. He was born in Jerez de los Caballeros, Spain. His father, whom we know little about, did not have influence or wealth.

When he was young, Vasco served in the household of a rich nobleman in Moguer, one of Spain’s main ports.

After Christopher Columbus´ voyage in 1492, more sailors were taken to the New World, and many sailor stories could be heard throughout Spain about the new lands across the ocean.

The opportunities attracted Balboa, who in 1501 joined a Spanish voyage to South America. They explored the north coast of what is now Colombia.

There were not enough people to attempt a settlement.

In 1502 they sailed to the Hispanola, the main Spanish base in America. Vasco had a very rough time making a living on the island. For a time he even raised pigs there.

Balboa´s rise to fame was one that happened little by little. In 1509, the first expedition to colonize the mainland of South America left Hispanola. Balboa wanted to join this expedition, but he had fallen heavily into debt, and he was prevented from leaving Hispanola.

On the mainland, the Spaniards established the settlement of San Sebastian along the eastern coast of Uraba. In 1510, Vasco stowed away on a ship that carried some supplies and new settlers to the colony.

When they reached the mainland, they met some of the San Sebastian settlers who had abandoned the settlement because they lacked food and the Indians were very dangerous there. The two groups united and went back to San Sebastian. Balboa, who had more

experience on the continent than the rest, suggested moving to the western side of the gulf.

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