Home » Vasco Nunez De Balboa Biography

Vasco Nunez De Balboa Biography

Vasco Nunez De Balboa was a Spanish Explorer and Conqueror born in Spain in 1475. He became the first European to see the Pacific Ocean. He helped in the establishment of the town of Darien on the isthmus of Panama.

Balboa - The Spanish Explorer
Vasco Nunez de Balboa

He became the interim governor.  In 1513 Balboa became the pioneer to take the very first European expedition to the Pacific. This was not known until the king sent Pedro Ariad de Avila to become the new Governor of Darien. It is believed that Avila was very jealous of Balboa’s achievements and his growing popularity and therefore he got him beheaded in 1513 for treason.

Early life and Expeditions

He was born in the province of Extremadura in Castile. Spain. He sought out for the expeditions in South America at a time, when people were looking for fortunes and wealth in the New World. He explored the coast of present-day Columbia and stayed on the island of Hispaniola (present-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic). He became infamous as he got into debt and had to flee in a ship to San Sebastian. After his arrival, he came to know that colonists are killed by the native and indigenous people of the lands. He then spoke to the colonists to move to the west of the Gulf of Uraba.

Balboa had also suggested that San Sebastián should be moved to the Darien region which was to the west of the Gulf of Urabá. Here the soil was much more fertile and the natives did not show any resistance. Fernández de Enciso took this suggestion, and the regiment went to Darién,

Martin Fernández de Enciso-
Fernández de Enciso


However, here the native chieftain-Cémaco had 500 warriors waiting ready to wage a battle. The Spanish became fearful of a large number of enemy warriors, took a solemn pledge to the Virgen de la Antigua, worshipped in Seville. The vow maintained that they would name a settlement in the region after Seville if they became victorious and win the battle.

It was a difficult battle for both the combatants. But The Spanish came out victorious.

Gulf of Uraba
Gulf of Uraba

Here they established the town of Darien on the Isthmus of Panama( It is a small strip of land connecting the Central and South America). He was made the interim governor of Balboa.

Panama Isthmus
Isthmus of Panama

His expedition to the Pacific Ocean

In 1513, Balboa was looking for new land and was in a search for gold and silver. He was always on a lookout for a new place where he could find wealth and could colonise it. He then led to the south in the search for a new sea, he wanted to be successful and wanted to win the favour of the then king of Spain, Ferdinand.

Vasco Núñez de Balboa
The Pacific Ocean.
Pacific Ocean

When he was not able to find and explore any metals like gold, silver. He claimed the entire Ocean for Spain. This was the Pacific Ocean. He also claimed its shores. This was a huge victory and achievement, Many of the colonists became jealous of his achievements.

His Death and Merciless Execution

The discovery of the island came a bit lait to the king who then sent Pedro Arias de Ávila to become the governor of Darien. As Avila was jealous of Balboa he conspired against him and thought about getting him executed. He then accused Balboa of treason. After a brief trial, he was beheaded on 12th January 1519. He was beheaded in Acla, near Darien, Panama.

Acla, Panama
Acla, near Darien, Panama.

Balboa and his four allies were executed.

Many Balboa cried, “Lies, lies! Never have such crimes held a place in my heart, I have always loyally served the King, with no thought in my mind but to increase his dominions.” This shows his loyalty towards the King,


Execution of Balboa

All said and done, he was a brave man and a great Explorer.

Found info useful?