500 Years First World Circumnavigation
A special block with three stamps is dedicated to the first circumnavigation of the world 500 years ago. The Portuguese "Ferdinand Magellan" (face value: CHF 2.80) set sail from Spain in 1519 with five ships and a crew of 237 men with the aim of finding a western sea route to the Moluccas Islands in Southeast Asia. Spices grew there that were much sought-after and traded at high prices in Europe. Magellan headed for South America first, where he found the entrance to the Pacific between Tierra del Fuego and the southern tip of South America in October 1520.
The strait known as the "Magellan Strait" was an important sea route until the construction of the Panama Canal and is still used by many ships today. In the following March, the fleet reached an island in the Philippines but Magellan was killed in a dispute with the indigenous people. The stamp "Death in the Philippines" (face value: CHF 2.20) commemorates this bloody battle. The Spaniard Juan Sebastian Elcano became the new captain. He succeeded in reaching the Spice Islands. He then sailed with the "Victoria" (face value: CHF 1.30) around the southern tip of Africa back to Spain, arriving on 7 September 1522 on the only sailing ship left in the fleet, loaded with precious spices, thus completing the circumnavigation of the world.