James Cook - Navigator and Explorer


James Cook was one of the world’s greatest explorers and navigators . He made three voyages that took him to the Pacific Ocean, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, the Antarctic and Arctic. James Cook was good at mathematics, science and astronomy .

Cook was born in England in 1728. In his youth he joined the British Navy and became a sailor . The British sent him to Canada where he commanded a ship during the French and Indian War . There he showed he was a good cartographer and mapped the coast of Newfoundland.

In 1768 he led a scientific expedition to the South Pacific. He got secret orders from the British to try to find a new southern continent, which nobody had known of. After making maps of New Zealand James Cook reached the southeastern Coast of Australia . He claimed the land for Great Britain and named it New South Wales.

In 1772 Cook went on a second voyage , once again in search of a mysterious southern continent. He sailed farther south than any other person before him. He reached the Antarctic Circle but did not get to Antarctica. Cook encountered many icebergs, which made him believe that a polar continent must exist. During this voyage he also set foot on many islands he missed during his first voyage, for example Tahiti, the Easter Islands and the Cook Islands.

In 1776 the British government authorized James Cook to lead a third mission. With two ships he sought to find a northern sea route between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Many explorers had been looking for such a Northwest Passage for many years. On his way north he discovered the Hawaiian Islands. Cook continued his journey up the western coast of Canada and Alaska. He passed the Bering Strait and sailed into the Arctic Ocean. There his ships had to turn back because they only encountered ice and snow but no passage .

The ships returned to Hawaii. There James Cook was killed in an argument between him and the native population .

The three voyages of James Cook : 1st voyage in red , second voyage in green, third voyage in blue


Related Topics



  • Antarctic Circle = a line around the world at a special distance from the South Pole
  • argument = quarrel
  • astronomy = the study of the stars and the planets
  • authorize = to allow someone to do something
  • Bering Strait = narrow passage of water that separates Asia and North America
  • cartographer = a person who makes maps
  • claim = to say that something officially belongs to you
  • coast = where land meets the sea
  • command = to be in control of
  • continue = go on
  • discover = to find something for the first time
  • encounter = meet, come across
  • expedition = a long journey to an unknown place
  • explorer = someone who travels to an unknown area to find out more about it
  • farther = more , past
  • French and Indian War = war that took place in North America between the French and the British in the middle of the 18th century
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • journey = trip, voyage
  • map = a drawing that shows the main features of a country or an area
  • native population = the people who lived there
  • navigator = a person on a ship who plans which way to go and works out the routes
  • passage = route
  • reach = get to
  • sailor = a person who works on a ship
  • science = knowledge about the world and nature that is based on facts
  • secret = something that not many people know about
  • seek—sought = look for
  • set foot on = land on
  • voyage = trip on a ship
  • youth = early life