dated 1507, from a time when the nature of the Americas was ambiguous, particularly North America, as a possible part of Asia, was the first map to show the Americas separating two distinct oceans. South America was generally considered a "new world" and shows the name "America" for the first time, after
Made in 1529, the
map was the first to show the Pacific at about its proper size
Important human migrations occurred in the Pacific in prehistoric times. About 3000 BC, the
Austronesian peoples on the island of
Taiwan mastered the art of long-distance canoe travel and spread themselves and their languages south to the
maritime Southeast Asia; west towards
Madagascar; southeast towards
New Guinea and
Melanesia (intermarrying with native
Papuans); and east to the islands of
Long-distance trade developed all along the coast from
Japan. Trade, and therefore knowledge, extended to the Indonesian islands but apparently not Australia. By at least 878 when there was a significant Islamic settlement in
Canton much of this trade was controlled by Arabs or Muslims. In 219 BC
Xu Fu sailed out into the Pacific searching for the elixir of immortality. From 1404 to 1433
Zheng He led
expeditions into the Indian Ocean.
Map of the Pacific Ocean during European Exploration, circa 1702–1707.
Map of the Pacific Ocean during European Exploration, circa 1754.
The first contact of European navigators with the western edge of the Pacific Ocean was made by the Portuguese expeditions of
António de Abreu and
Francisco Serrão to the
Maluku Islands in 1512,
 and with
Jorge Álvares's expedition to southern China in 1513,
 both ordered by
Afonso de Albuquerque.
The east side of the ocean was discovered by Spanish explorer
Vasco Núñez de Balboa in 1513 after his expedition crossed the
Isthmus of Panama and reached a new ocean.
 He named it Mar del Sur (literally, "Sea of the South" or "South Sea") because the ocean was to the south of the coast of the isthmus where he first observed the Pacific.
Later, Portuguese explorer
Ferdinand Magellan sailed the Pacific on a Castilian (Spanish) expedition of world
circumnavigation starting in 1519. Magellan called the ocean Pacífico (or "Pacific" meaning, "peaceful") because, after sailing through the stormy seas off
Cape Horn, the expedition found calm waters. The ocean was often called the Sea of Magellan in his honor until the eighteenth century.
 Although Magellan himself died in the
Philippines in 1521, Spanish Basque navigator
Juan Sebastián Elcano led the expedition back to Spain across the
Indian Ocean and round the
Cape of Good Hope, completing the first world circumnavigation in 1522.
 Sailing around and east of the Moluccas, between 1525 and 1527, Portuguese expeditions discovered the
Papua New Guinea.
 In 1542–43 the Portuguese also reached
In 1564, five Spanish ships consisting of 379 explorers crossed the ocean from Mexico led by
Miguel López de Legazpi and sailed to the
 For the remainder of the 16th century, Spanish influence was paramount, with ships sailing from
Peru across the Pacific Ocean to the Philippines, via
Guam, and establishing the
Spanish East Indies. The
Manila galleons operated for two and a half centuries linking
Acapulco, in one of the longest trade routes in history. Spanish expeditions also discovered
Cook Islands, the
Solomon Islands, and the
Admiralty Islands in the South Pacific.
Later, in the quest for
Terra Australis (i.e., "the [great] Southern Land"), Spanish explorers in the 17th century discovered the
Vanuatu archipelagos, and sailed the
Torres Strait between
Australia and New Guinea, named after navigator
Luís Vaz de Torres. Dutch explorers, sailing around southern Africa, also engaged in discovery and trade;
Abel Janszoon Tasman discovered
New Zealand in 1642.
In the 16th and 17th century Spain considered the Pacific Ocean a
Mare clausum—a sea closed to other naval powers. As the only known entrance from the Atlantic the
Strait of Magellan was at times patrolled by fleets sent to prevent entrance of non-Spanish ships. On the western end of the Pacific Ocean the Dutch threatened the
The 18th century marked the beginning of major exploration by the Russians in
Alaska and the
Aleutian Islands. Spain also sent
expeditions to the Pacific Northwest reaching
Vancouver Island in southern Canada, and Alaska. The French explored and settled
Polynesia, and the British made three voyages with
James Cook to the South Pacific and
Hawaii, and the North American
Pacific Northwest. In 1768,
Pierre-Antoine Véron, a young
Louis Antoine de Bougainville on his voyage of exploration, established the width of the Pacific with precision for the first time in history.
 One of the earliest voyages of scientific exploration was organized by Spain in the
Malaspina Expedition of 1789–1794. It sailed vast areas of the Pacific, from Cape Horn to Alaska, Guam and the Philippines, New Zealand, Australia, and the South Pacific.
imperialism during the 19th century resulted in the occupation of much of Oceania by other European powers, and later,
Japan and the
United States. Significant contributions to oceanographic knowledge were made by the voyages of
HMS Beagle in the 1830s, with
Charles Darwin aboard;
HMS Challenger during the 1870s; the
USS Tuscarora (1873–76); and the German Gazelle (1874–76).
In Oceania, France got a leading position as imperial power after making
New Caledonia protectorates in 1842 and 1853 respectively.
 After navy visits to
Easter Island in 1875 and 1887, Chilean navy officer
Policarpo Toro managed to negotiate an incorporation of the island into Chile with native
Rapanui in 1888. By occupying Easter Island, Chile joined the imperial nations.
(p53) By 1900 nearly all Pacific islands were in control of Britain, France, United States, Germany, Japan, and Chile.
Although the United States gained control of
Guam and the
Spain in 1898,
 Japan controlled most of the western Pacific by 1914 and occupied many other islands during
World War II. However, by the end of that war, Japan was defeated and the
U.S. Pacific Fleet was the virtual master of the ocean. Since the end of World War II, many former colonies in the Pacific have become independent