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The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions.

It extends from the Arctic Ocean in


the north to theSouthern Ocean (or, depending on definition, to Antarctica) in the south and is
bounded by Asia and Australia in the west and the Americas in the east.
At 165.25 million square kilometers (63.8 million square miles) in area, this largest division of
the World Oceanand, in turn, the hydrospherecovers about 46% of the Earth's water surface
and about one-third of its total surface area, making it larger than all of the Earth's land area
combined.[1]
The equator subdivides it into the North Pacific Ocean and South Pacific Ocean, with two
exceptions: the Galpagos andGilbert Islands, while straddling the equator, are deemed wholly
within the South Pacific.[2] The Mariana Trench in the western North Pacific is the deepest point in the
world, reaching a depth of 10,911 metres (35,797 ft).[3]
Both the center of the Water Hemisphere and the Western Hemisphere are in the Pacific Ocean.
Though the peoples of Asia and Oceania have travelled the Pacific Ocean since prehistoric times,
the eastern Pacific was first sighted by Europeans in the early 16th century when Spanish
explorer Vasco Nez de Balboa crossed the Isthmus of Panama in 1513 and discovered the great
"southern sea" which he named Mar del Sur. The ocean's current name was coined
by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan during the Spanish circumnavigation of the world in
1521, as he encountered favourable winds on reaching the ocean. He called it Mar Pacfico, which in
both Portuguese and Spanishmeans "peaceful sea".[4]

Important human migrations occurred in the Pacific in prehistoric times. About 3000 BC,
the Austronesian peoples on the island of Taiwanmastered the art of long-distance canoe travel and
spread themselves and their languages south to the Philippines, Indonesia, andmaritime Southeast
Asia; west towards Madagascar; southeast towards New Guinea and Melanesia (intermarrying with
native Papuans); and east to the islands of Micronesia, Oceania and Polynesia.[6] Long-distance
trade developed all along the coast from Mozambique to Japan. Trade, and therefore knowledge,
extended to the Indonesian islands but apparently not Australia. By at least 878 when there was a
significant Islamic settlement in Canton much of this trade was controlled by Arabs or Muslims. In
219 BC Xu Fu sailed out into the Pacific searching for the elixir of immortality. From 1404 to
1433 Zheng He led expeditions into the Indian Ocean.
The first contact of European navigators with the western edge of the Pacific Ocean was made by
the Portuguese expeditions of Antnio de Abreu and Francisco Serro to the Maluku Islands in
1512,[7][8] and with Jorge lvares's expedition to southern China in 1513,[9] both ordered by Afonso de
Albuquerque.
The east side of the ocean was discovered by Spanish explorer Vasco Nez de Balboa in 1513
after his expedition crossed the Isthmus of Panama and reached a new ocean.[10] He named it Mar
del Sur (literally, "Sea of the South" or "South Sea") because the ocean was to the south of the coast
of the isthmus where he first observed the Pacific.
Later, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan sailed the Pacific on a Castilian (Spanish) expedition
of world circumnavigation starting in 1519. Magellan called the ocean Pacfico (or "Pacific" meaning,
"peaceful") because, after sailing through the stormy seas off Cape Horn, the expedition found calm

waters. The ocean was often called the Sea of Magellan in his honor until the eighteenth century.
[11]
Although Magellan himself died in the Philippines in 1521, Spanish Basque navigator Juan
Sebastin Elcano led the expedition back to Spain across the Indian Ocean and round the Cape of
Good Hope, completing the first world circumnavigation in 1522. [12] Sailing around and east of the
Moluccas, between 1525 and 1527, Portuguese expeditions discovered the Caroline
Islands[13] and Papua New Guinea.[14] In 154243 the Portuguese also reached Japan.[15]
In 1564, five Spanish ships consisting of 379 explorers crossed the ocean from Mexico led by Miguel
Lpez de Legazpi and sailed to thePhilippines and Mariana Islands.[16] For the remainder of the 16th
century, Spanish influence was paramount, with ships sailing fromMexico and Peru across the
Pacific Ocean to the Philippines, via Guam, and establishing the Spanish East Indies. The Manila
galleonsoperated for two and a half centuries linking Manila and Acapulco, in one of the longest
trade routes in history. Spanish expeditions also discovered Tuvalu, the Marquesas, the Cook
Islands, the Solomon Islands, and the Admiralty Islands in the South Pacific.[17]
Later, in the quest for Terra Australis (i.e., "the [great] Southern Land"), Spanish explorers in the 17th
century discovered the Pitcairn andVanuatu archipelagos, and sailed the Torres
Strait between Australia and New Guinea, named after navigator Lus Vaz de Torres. Dutch
explorers, sailing around southern Africa, also engaged in discovery and trade; Abel Janszoon
Tasman discovered Tasmania and New Zealand in 1642.[18]
In the 16th and 17th century Spain considered the Pacific Ocean a Mare clausuma sea closed to
other naval powers. As the only known entrance from the Atlantic the Strait of Magellan was at times
patrolled by fleets sent to prevent entrance of non-Spanish ships. On the western end of the Pacific
Ocean the Dutch threatened the Spanish Philippines.[19]
The 18th century marked the beginning of major exploration by the Russians in Alaska and
the Aleutian Islands. Spain also sentexpeditions to the Pacific Northwest reaching Vancouver
Island in southern Canada, and Alaska. The French explored and settledPolynesia, and the British
made three voyages with James Cook to the South Pacific and Australia, Hawaii, and the North
American Pacific Northwest. In 1768, Pierre-Antoine Vron, a
young astronomer accompanying Louis Antoine de Bougainville on his voyage of exploration,
established the width of the Pacific with precision for the first time in history.[20] One of the earliest
voyages of scientific exploration was organized by Spain in the Malaspina Expedition of 17891794.
It sailed vast areas of the Pacific, from Cape Horn to Alaska, Guam and the Philippines, New
Zealand, Australia, and the South Pacific.[17]

Source: wikipedia