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How did Pacific Ocean get its name? - Answers

How did Pacific Ocean get its name?

World map highlighting Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean of the world

The Pacific Ocean is by far the largest of the three major oceans of the world – the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Indian Ocean. With a water body as vast as the Pacific Ocean it is possible that early European explorers had navigated and named at least parts of the ocean. The name that stuck, however, was given by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan who found the ocean waters calm and relatively easy to sail through.

In 1519, Magellan was commissioned by Spain to find a new sea route to the Spice Islands (Indonesia), now known as Maluku Islands . He set off with a fleet of five ships and 265 men but only three of the ships could make it past the turbulent currents of the Atlantic Ocean. Cape Horn had been exceptionally rough and sailing past it, in 1920 Magellan and his men, entered the calm and peaceful waters of the Pacific Ocean. He named it Pacífico which later became ‘Pacific’, though many called the ocean the Sea of Magellan for many years. Magellan and his men underestimated the expanse of the Pacific Ocean and by the time they completed the expedition only 18 of the starved men managed to survive.

The Pacific Ocean stretches all the way from the Antarctic region in the southern Hemisphere to the Arctic region in the north. To the east are the Americas and to the west is Asia and Australia. It covers an area of about 59 million square miles and holds about half the free water available on our planet. The Pacific Ocean occupies about a third of Earth’s surface and all the landmasses in the world can be fitted into the Pacific basin. This makes the Pacific Ocean about double the Atlantic Ocean (both by area and by water volume) – the next largest ocean.

Not only is the Pacific Ocean the largest but is also the deepest ocean of the world. In fact, Mariana Trench in the North Pacific is 35,797 feet deep and is considered the deepest point in the world. The part of the Pacific Ocean north of the Equator is referred to as North Pacific and the half to the south of the Equator is called South Pacific Ocean. The Pacific basin is also believed to consist of some of the oldest rocks found on earth. Some of them date back 200 million years.

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