During the heyday of colonialism, the empires organized many expeditions, to find new markets for their products. The first circumnavigation of the globe was the result of one of those expeditions. Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan is considered to be the first person to have circumnavigates the Earth. However, he was not alone in the expedition nor he could finish the journey and make it home.
The actual goal of Magellan and his crew was to find a path to Spice Islands belonging to East Indies through the west side. The expedition was sponsored by the Spanish king Charles I. The East Indies had been under Spanish rule then.
Magellan and crew set out on the voyage on 20 September 1519. The ensemble consisted of five fleets with around 250 crew members. The flagship which Magellan captained was named Trinidad. They first traveled to South America through the Atlantic. Sailing along the eastern coast of the continent for some days, they passed a strait which is now known as Strait of Magellan, to enter the Pacific Ocean. The ocean was named so by Magellan himself. Surviving a troublesome period which could have seen the voyage stopped because of mutinies and climatic challenges, they reached Homonhon island of The Philippines. Some of the natives were receptive to the explorers but others were not. Magellan indulged in a battle with one of the ethnic groups there and was killed on 27 April 1521. After his death, the crew resumed the journey and reached the Spics Islands. After a brief stay and trade, they decided to split into two groups and continue the voyage. The first group was led by Juan Sebastian Elcano in the ship Victoria along the West route. The second ship Trinidad, after a repairing period, tried to sail along East but was captured by the Portuguese and destroyed in a storm.
On 6 September 1522, Elcano arrived in Spain with the remaining crew, which had reduced to a mere 17. They finished the first circumnavigation of the world, though it was unintentional. More than two hundred crewmen had lost their lives during the voyage that lasted almost three years.
It took another four centuries for one to achieve the feat alone. In 1898, an American named Joshua Slocum became the first person to circumnavigate the planet alone. His voyage was in a small ship named Spray. He earned the necessary money from speeches he rendered at various places during his journey.
The first circumnavigation by air was in 1933. American pilot Wiley Post was the person who accomplished the feat. Starting on July 15, he took 7 days, 18 hours and 49 minutes to finish the journey on his monoplane named Winnie Mae.