Vasco Núñez de Balboa


McGraw-Hill Education

The balboa coin

In Panama City, you can find one of many monuments throughout Panama honoring Vasco Núñez de Balboa (1475–1519). The Spanish explorer and conquistador crossed the Isthmus of Panama in 1513 and discovered el Mar del Sur, known today as the Pacific Ocean. Balboa was named governor of Panama in 1514. Avenida Balboa, the main street of Panama City that runs along the Pacific, is named after him, as are many parks and avenues throughout cities in the country. Panama’s main port, at the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal, is Balboa. The Panamanian currency is called the balboa. Vasco Núñez de Balboa was a successful explorer and effective leader and administrator, and his actions will always be remembered and honored by the Panamanians.

Explore More:

1. Did you know that there is a crater on the moon named after Balboa? Investigate examples of cities, landmarks, parks, and other places in the United States that are named after him. Where would you expect such places to be located?

2. Explore more about Balboa’s life. Learn about his cruel rival Pedrarius Dávila and the role he played in Balboa’s death. This animosity between two leaders may remind you of other famous rivalries that you learned about in history class, such as Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, or Caesar and Pompey. Discuss these rivalries with your classmates.