Ferdinand Magellan is often credited as the first person to circumnavigate the globe. This is partially true. Although Magellan himself would not survive the entire voyage, his expedition completed the first entire circumnavigation of the planet. Moreover, discoveries and actions resulted from Magellan's expedition that had effects far beyond the voyage itself.
Straits of Magellan
Magellan's expedition discovered the Straits of Magellan, and they became the first passage for ships to use to pass between the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. The entire purpose of Magellan's expedition was to discover more expedient routes to the east, and the discovery of the straits accomplished that goal. The straits remained important for many years as a passage between the two oceans. However, the building of the Panama Canal in 1914 reduced the importance of the straits because the canal provided a much shorter and safer passage between west and the east.
Spread of Christianity
Magellan and his men spread the message of Christianity wherever they went. In the Philippines, the crew converted many people to Christianity. However, the desire to convert more people would eventually lead to Magellan's downfall. While his time there did help lead to widespread Christianity in the region, his insistence on converting a chief from the island of Mactan eventually enraged the chief into ordering his men to attack. This was the battle in which Magellan was killed.
International Date Line
The international date line is an imaginary line in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The line divides the time zones of the world. On one side of the line, it is a full day later at the exact same time than on the other side. The need for such a line was discovered during Magellan's voyage. Upon returning home, Magellan's crew discovered that, despite keeping meticulous logbooks, it was a full day later than what they expected.
Many animals were documented for the first time on the Magellan voyage. The Magellanic penguin was one of the chief discoveries of the voyage, although the sailors at the time thought the strange bird was a variety of goose. The penguin was named after the voyage. The guanaco, an animal related to the camel but without a hump, was also reported for the first time as a result of this voyage.
- Encyclopaedia Britannica: Strait of Magellan
- The Web Chronology Project: First Circumnavigation of the Globe by Magellan; Tait M. Swenson
- Watch Know Learn.org: International Date Line and Time Zones
- Universiteit Utrecht: The Discovery of the Celendrical Date Line
- Janes Oceania: About Ferdinand Magellan's Voyage Round the World
- Photo Credit Anson_iStock/iStock/Getty Images
Facts About Ferdinand Magellan for Kids
As captain of one of the first fleet of ships to travel around the world, Ferdinand Magellan's goal was to find a...