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Great Navigators

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Portugal 2022

The Spaniard Juan Sebastián de Elcano and the Portuguese Ferdinand Magellan were navigators and explorers who jointly sailed under the flag of both Portugal and Spain. Magellan organised an expedition to the East Indies from 1519 to 1522, which resulted in the first circumnavigation of the Earth, completed by Juan Sebastian Elcano, who took over the command of the last remaining ship of the five that had set out on the expedition after Magellan was killed in the Philippines in an attack on a native settlement. The aim of the expedition was to sail west and find a route around southern America to reach the Spice Islands. The fleet discovered what is now the Strait of Magellan and, enduring much hardship, was the first to cross the Pacific Ocean. Reaching the Moluccas in late 1521, Elcano’s ship – the Victoria – sailed across the Indian Ocean and finally reached the Atlantic. Although the ship arrived laden with spices, the expedition’s original crew of 285 had been reduced to 18 undernourished and weakened seamen. Correios de Portugal, S.A., the Portuguese company that operates the national postal service of Portugal in 2022 produced stamps and the stamp sheet shown here to commemorate the achievement.

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