Vasco Nunez De Balboa Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Jenny Homer

Jenny has masters' degrees in public health and public administration.

This lesson talks about Vasco Nunez De Balboa, one of the Spanish conquistadors who explored the Americas in the early 1500s. Learn about his life, travels, and how he became the first European to see the Pacific Ocean.

Who is Vasco Nunez De Balboa?

Vasco Nunez De Balboa might not be one of the most famous explorers, but the story of his life would have made an exciting movie. It was full of drama, rivalry, treasure hunting, and an unhappy ending. Balboa was one of the Spanish conquistadors, an explorer who conquered land for Spain in the early 1500s. This was right after Christopher Columbus discovered the Indies, and Spain wanted to get land and find riches in North and South America. Let's find out more about Balboa's life and discoveries.

Balboa the Conquistador

Balboa was born in Spain in 1475, but he left for the New World when he was 25 years old. His real adventures began when he went to help a settlement of people from Spain living in Columbia.

Monument to Balboa in Panama City

When Balboa found the group, it turned out that they needed a lot of help. Their settlement was not doing well. Balboa thought it would be better for them to move to a different area. They started a town called Santa Maria de la Antigua that did much better. This town became the first real community in South America.

The spot Balboa picked was near the Isthmus of Panama. An isthmus is a narrow piece of land with water on either side. Balboa and the Spanish knew that the Atlantic Ocean was one side, since that was how they sailed from Spain. They would soon learn that the Pacific Ocean was waiting for them on the other side.

Map showing the Isthmus of Panama.

Finding the Pacific Ocean

To get gold, Balboa traded with the Indians living nearby. He would also fight with them and force information out of them. He could be very cruel. But, he found out about a place in the south with a sea and lots of gold that excited the King of Spain.

The king sent out a group to look for it. The king did not like some of what he heard about Balboa and thought someone else named Pedrarias would be better to lead this new group. Instead of waiting, Balboa went ahead with his own team of men and Indians to try to find the sea. To cross the isthmus, they had to go through jungles and swamps.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account