South Seas

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The old term for the Pacific Ocean. It was given this name by Vasco Nuñez de Balboa in 1513 when, after sighting the ocean from the top of a mountain range, he reached the coast near Panama and took possession of the ‘Great South Sea’ in the name of King Ferdinand of Spain. The expression occurs in most of the books of voyages at least up to the middle of the 18th century. It embraced the whole of the Pacific Ocean, purely from the fact that the only means of reaching it from the east was round Cape Horn or through the Magellan Straits.

See also exploration by sea.

See also exploration by sea.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945) — Maritime History.

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