The Spanish Pacific

The Spanish were interested in developing only their discoveries on the eastern and western sides of the Pacific. The intervening islands lacked the type of wealth desired by the Spaniards. Because of the danger to shipping, routes were developed to avoid the known islands. Coastal shipping routes were established connecting Peru with Panama and Mexico on the eastern side of the Pacific. On the western side a settlement was established in the Philippines in 1565 and Manila was founded in 1571. The Marianas were not permanently occupied until 1668, when a desire to spread Christianity coincided with a desire to keep English and other pirates out of these islands, which were strategically located on the route of the Manila galleon.

After Magellan's crossing other navigators followed him, taking advantage of the northeast trades to cross the Pacific from east to west. They were unable to beat their way back to the Americas, however, because of their lack of knowledge of the general wind circulation. It was not until 1565 that Andres de Urdaneta found the westerlies and made a successful crossing at about 42 degrees north latitude. For the next 250 years the Manila galleon and other vessels followed "Urdaneta's Passage" between the Philippines and Acapulco, Mexico.

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