Sunday marks the birthday of Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, the first explorer to circumnavigate the Earth, and in tribute geographic content website Maps.com has selected Feb. 3 for its annual “International Maps Day,” an initiative to promote knowledge of geography and interest in maps.
John Glanville, CEO and president of the Santa Barbara-based website, told the News-Press that he hopes the day will spark a new passion for maps in the uninitiated and get people to realize the magic behind the endless cartographical information in their phones that they don’t ordinarily think too much about.
“This is about getting people to recognize that a good map can tell you about place, where you are, and where you’re going,” he said.
According to a press release, the International Map Day webpage on Maps.com features much content about Ferdinand Magellan, after whom the website took its initial name, Magellan Geogrophix. The content includes the navigator’s history, an interactive map showing his circumnavigation of the world, a free printable map, and a lesson map for use in schools.
Mr. Glanville said the free map will be available on the website for about two weeks after Sunday.
The printable map highlights the stops during the three-year journey from 1519 to 1522. As well as the crew’s initial departure from Spain and various settlements, the map highlights important events such as a failed mutiny in South America and Magellan’s death in a battle against the Pacific islander natives on Mactan Island on April 27, 1521.
According to Maps.com’s history on Magellan, the battle that took the explorer’s life came about when he tried to forcibly convert the natives of Mactan Island to Christianity, something he had successfully done with the natives on Cebu Island. Magellan’s remaining crew returned to Spain on Sept. 6, 1522.
Though there are many notable world explorers, Mr. Glanville said the website is highlighting Magellan because he was the first to circle the world and establish its size. While maps up until his discoveries had a “creative interpretation” of how big the world was, Magellan was “the one who established, ‘No, it’s this size.’ ”
This summer the website will come out with a new addition to its collection of maps and lesson plans called “Great Navigators,” which will consist of content covering “prehistory to Sulu on the Enterprise.”
Mr. Glanville said that Maps.com’s mission is to help people better understand the world, and that maps are “one of the better ways to do that.” Developing this deeper understanding is where he gets his personal passion for maps, which is one that he often sees in just about everybody when they are asked about maps.
“It’s almost primal. Everyone has an interest in knowing where we are or exploring places we’ve never been,” he said.