Explorer Ferdinand Magellan was determined to find a sea route to Asia from Spain by sailing westward.
It was Spain’s only choice — Portugal controlled the eastern route to the rich spice islands of Asia. At first, all went smoothly.
Magellan set out in 1519 with five ships.
They crossed the Atlantic Ocean and hugged the coast of South America, trying to find a passage through the continent.
The ships traveled farther and farther south, until finally … success! In November 1520, they sailed through a narrow channel and into the Pacific Ocean.
They were one step closer to Asia. Although low on food and water and suffering from scurvy, they pushed on.
On March 16, 1521, they landed in the Philippines.
They were the first voyagers to reach Asia by sailing westward! Only one of Magellan’s ships made it back to Spain, and Magellan wasn’t on it.
He had been killed in a skirmish in the Philippines. Still, his expedition was first to send a ship around the world and establish a westerly sea route from Europe to Asia.
Magellan’s voyage proved that Earth’s oceans are connected and that it is possible to sail right around the world.
In his honor, the channel he discovered through South America was named the Strait of Magellan.