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Lived: 1475-1519

Vasco Nunez de Balboa, a Spanish conquistador, found his way into history as being the first European to see the Pacific Ocean from its western shore. Balboa, along with Francisco Pizarro and Fernandez de Enciso, founded the first Spanish mainland colony in the New World, Nuestra Senora de la Antigua, in what is now modern Panama. Balboa quickly took control of the colony, despite its poor location, setting up decent relationships with the natives, ousting Enciso and relegating Pizarro to a subordinate position. But it was Balboa's trip across the isthmus of Panama that would make him famous. Setting off on the trip in order to beat an expedition to a spoken-of land filled with "rivers of gold" Balboa and less than 200 men made their way across the steep hills of the Panamanian interior, never finding their sought after rivers of gold, instead making history.