Commemorative issue Panama-Pacific International Exposition
Vasco Nunez de Balboa
The first European to see the eastern shore of the Pacific Ocean, Balboa opened the way for Spanish exploration and settlement of South America's western coast. Sailing for the New World in 1500 as part of an expedition to Colombia, he settled on the island of Hispaniola. Failing first as a farmer, Balboa stowed away in 1510 on a ship headed for the mainland. There he founded the colony of Darien on the Isthmus of Panama. Balboa led an expedition to the west and sighted the Pacific Ocean. King Ferdinand II of Aragon named Balboa governor of a small area along the Pacific Coast. His superior in the region had Balboa beheaded in early 1519 on a false charge of treason.