The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth’s oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean (or, depending on definition, to Antarctica) in the south and is bounded by Asia and Australia in the west and the Americas in the east.
At 165,250,000 square kilometers (63,800,000 square miles) in area (as defined with an Antarctic southern border), this largest division of the World Ocean—and, in turn, the hydrosphere—covers about 46% of Earth’s water surface and about one-third of its total surface area, making it larger than all of Earth’s land area combined. Both the center of the Water Hemisphere and the Western Hemisphere are in the Pacific Ocean. The equator subdivides it into the North Pacific Ocean and South Pacific Ocean, with two exceptions: the Galápagos and Gilbert Islands, while straddling the equator, are deemed wholly within the South Pacific. Its mean depth is 4,280 meters (14,040 feet). The Mariana Trench in the western North Pacific is the deepest point in the world, reaching a depth of 10,911 meters (35,797 feet). The western Pacific has many peripheral seas.
Though the peoples of Asia and Oceania have traveled the Pacific Ocean since prehistoric times, the eastern Pacific was first sighted by Europeans in the early 16th century when Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa crossed the Isthmus of Panama in 1513 and discovered the great “southern sea” which he named Mar del Sur (in Spanish). The ocean’s current name was coined by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan during the Spanish circumnavigation of the world in 1521, as he encountered favorable winds on reaching the ocean. He called it Mar Pacífico, which in both Portuguese and Spanish means “peaceful sea”.2