Pacific Ocean

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Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean (or, depending on definition, to Antarctica) in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.

Contents

Area

At 165.2 million square kilometres (63.8 million square miles) in area, this largest division of the World Ocean – and, in turn, the hydrosphere – covers 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. The equator subdivides it into the North Pacific Ocean and South Pacific Ocean, with two exceptions: the Galápagos and Gilbert Islands, while straddling the equator, are deemed wholly within the South Pacific. 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).

Name

The Pacific Ocean was sighted by Europeans early in the 16th century, first by the Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa, who crossed the Isthmus of Panama in 1513 and named it Mar del Sur (South Sea). Its current name was given by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan during the Spanish expedition of world circumnavigation in 1521, who encountered favourable winds as he reached the ocean and called it Mar Pacifico in Portuguese, meaning "peaceful sea"

Magellan

On September 20, 1519, Magellan and a crew of 270 men set sail from Spain on their around-the-world voyage in five small vessels including his flagship Trinidad, Concepcion, San Antonio, Victoria, and Santiago. It took the fleet, or at least the three remaining ships in the fleet, 38 days to navigate the strait around South America that was to bear Magellan’s name. During the last week of November, the fleet emerged into what Magellan described as a “beautiful, peaceful ocean.” Thus, it was named the Pacific Ocean (“pacific” meaning “peaceful.”)

Upon entering the Pacific Ocean, Magellan mistakenly thought the Spice Islands were only a short voyage away. Nearly four months later, in March 1521, he and his crew finally reached what is known today as the Philippines. A few weeks later, he was fatally wounded after becoming involved in a dispute between warring Philippine tribes. Only one ship, Victoria, and 18 of Magellan’s original crew members returned to Spain, thereby completing the first circumnavigation of the globe. Although Magellan’s route proved impractical for the spice trade, his voyage has been called the greatest single human achievement on the seas.

Océano Pacífico

El océano Pacífico es el mayor océano de la Tierra, ocupa la tercera parte de su superficie. Se extiende aproximadamente 15.000 km desde el mar de Bering y en el Ártico por el norte, hasta los márgenes congelados del mar de Ross en la Antártida por el sur. Alcanza su mayor ancho (del orden de 19.800 km) aproximadamente a 5 grados de latitud norte, extendiéndose desde Indonesia hasta la costa de Colombia. El límite occidental del océano es puesto a menudo en el estrecho de Malaca.

El Pacífico contiene aproximadamente 25.000 islas (más que todos los demás océanos del mundo juntos), casi todas las cuales están ubicadas al sur de la línea del Ecuador. El Pacífico cubre un área de 165.700.000 km2. El punto más bajo de la superficie de la corteza terrestre, la fosa de las Marianas, se encuentra en el Pacífico.

El océano Pacífico solo se comunica con el océano Atlántico a través de tres conexiones: una es artificial: el canal de Panamá, y las restantes son pasos naturales en el extremo austral americano: el Estrecho de Magallanes y el Pasaje de Drake.

El primer europeo que contempló la inmensidad del océano Pacífico desde la orilla americana fue el hidalgo y explorador español Vasco Núñez de Balboa, quien el día 25 de septiembre de 1513 después de haber tomado posesión de sus aguas en nombre de los reyes de Castilla, le otorgó el nombre de mar del Sur a la enorme extensión de agua que miró desde una cumbre ubicada en el istmo de Panamá.

El explorador portugués Fernando de Magallanes durante su expedición alrededor del mundo al servicio de la Corona de España, nombró a este océano pacífico pues durante la mayoría de su viaje desde el estrecho de Magallanes hasta las Filipinas, lo encontró en calma. Sin embargo, el Pacífico no siempre hace honor a su nombre, pues a menudo los tifones, los huracanes y los sismos golpean las islas de este océano y los litorales continentales.

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