The Pacific Ocean is a body of water bounded on the North by the Bering Straits, on the East by the West coasts of North and South America, on the South by Antarctic Ocean and the North Coast of Australia, and on the West by the East coast of Asia and the East Asian Islands. The largest of the world's five oceans, the Pacific covers an area estimated between 55,000,000 and 70,000,000 square miles. It was the last of the oceans explored by Europeans, with Spain leading the way in the early 1500s. The Pacific received its name from Ferdinand Magellan due the general absence of storms. Until the first decades of the eighteenth century, Spain claimed and exercised a precarious sovereignty over the Pacific, though often threatened by privateering and piratical voyages undertaken by other European nations. With the collapse of the Spanish hegemony and the end of buccaneering, voyagers began to explore, survey, and chart the Pacific, opening the vast expand of sea to seamen from around the world.
Peter Kemp, ed., The Oxford Companion to Ships & the Sea (London, New York, and Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1976), 624-25; Webster's New Geographical Dictionary (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1988), 910.