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Knowledge of 16th century Caribbean island Cuba (then known as Hispaniola) expanded greatly with the discoveries of Spanish captain Sebastián de Ocampo who successfully managed to circumvent this island for the first time and enter the gulf of Mexico.
One of the most famous Spanish explorers of 16th century was Hernando de Soto, who accompanied conquistador Francisco Pizarro in his destruction of Incan empire and contributed to the modern history by exploring the lands of Florida and discovering the mighty river Mississippi.
Juan Ponce de Leon is today remembered as a explorer who operated in central American waters shortly after Christopher Columbus made his historic journey to the west. During his life De Leon made many notable achievements, but today he is mostly remembered for his colonization of Florida and its exploration.
History of exploration will not be complete without mention of this famous Spanish explorer and conquistador. Vasco Núñez de Balboa will remain remembered as the first European who successfully reached Pacific Ocean via the Strait of Panama.