Ferdinand Magellan, here painted by an unknown artist, is often credited with being the first person to circumnavigate the globe. He wasn't—he outlined the navigation of the voyage, but died en route, during a skirmish in the Philippines.
Painting courtesy National Geographic

Download this file

  • On April 27, 1521, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan was killed by a poison arrow during a skirmish on the island of Mactan in what is now the Philippines. Magellan and his crew were assisting a local king they had allied with when they landed on the island of Cebu weeks earlier.
    Magellan and his crew endured a long voyage to the Philippines. First, they sailed from Spain to the Canary Islands off the coast of West Africa. From there, they crossed the Atlantic Ocean to what is now Brazil and Argentina. The harrowing trip around the tip of South America—what is now called the Strait of Magellan—took 38 days. Then the crew set sail across the Pacific. By the time Magellan and his crew reached the Philippines, they had been at sea for more than a year. 
    Magellan was on a route to Portuguese territories in the Spice Islands (now Indonesia). Although Magellan himself was Portuguese, he was working for Spain, and hoped to claim the lucrative islands for the Spanish Empire. 
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    assist Noun

    to help or support.

    endure Verb

    to survive.

    explorer Noun

    person who studies unknown areas.

    harrowing Adjective

    extremely disturbing or scary.

    lucrative Adjective

    profitable or money-making.

    route Noun

    path or way.

    skirmish Noun

    fight or dispute involving few people.

    strait Noun

    narrow passage of water that connects two larger bodies of water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: strait
    tribe Noun

    community made of one or several family groups sharing a common culture.