Ferdinand Magellan Lesson for Kids: Biography & Facts

Instructor: Crystal Ladwig
Guess which explorer is said to have been the first to sail all across the world but never actually did? It was Ferdinand Magellan. Read on to learn more about this famous explorer.

Around the World

Wouldn't it be cool to have a part of the world named after you? The Strait of Magellan is a passage from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. Ferdinand Magellan gets the credit for being the first explorer to find this passage and circumnavigate the world. That means he sailed all around the world. But Magellan never actually completed this historic voyage. So how did he get the credit?

Ferdinand Magellan was the leader of the first voyage to sail all the way around the world.

Enter Ferdinand Magellan

Ferdinand Magellan was born in Portugal about 1480. Not much is known about his life before he became an explorer. As an explorer, he faced starvation, rebel sailors, and storms before he died in 1521, just before he finished a famous voyage.

Magellan's Explorations

Magellan's early explorations were to the Spice Islands in India, where valuable spices could be found. Traders could make lots of money buying, selling, and trading these spices. Early traders got there by traveling from Europe around Africa to India, which took a long time. Finding a quicker way there would give a country an advantage and help them get rich.

Magellan thought he could get to the India quicker by traveling around the Americas. The King of Spain agreed to pay for his voyage. Magellan set sail in 1519 with five ships and about 270 men. His plan was to sail across the Atlantic Ocean, go around South America, then to India. He didn't know the Pacific Ocean was on the other side of South America. He thought it was just a small body of water. The trip would not be easy, and in the end, it would cost Magellan his life.

Copy of one of the ships Magellan used. Imagine sailing like that.
Magellan ship

Strait into History

Magellan eventually found a passage from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. He called it All Saints' Channel. This was later renamed the Strait of Magellan. Magellan called the water on the other side the Pacifico, which means peaceful. That's how the Pacific Ocean got its name. Magellan then sailed for the Spice Islands. Only three ships were left. One sunk, and another returned to Europe after they reached the Strait of Magellan.

The Strait of Magellan is a winding path at the southern tip of South America connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.
Strait of Magellan

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