Does Abel Tasman’s name sound familiar to you? If it does, it’s because the Australian island of Tasmania is named after him. Read on to learn more interesting facts about this Dutch navigator.
1. He Was Born In The Netherlands
Abel Janszoon Tasman was born in 1603 in Lutjegast (which is located in a province now known as Groningen) in the Netherlands. Not much is known about his early years; the earliest document that mentioned him is dated December 27, 1631, and it noted that Tasman (who was a widower) was engaged to a young woman named Jannetje Tjaers.
2. He Worked For The Dutch East India Company
In 1633, Tasman traveled to Batavia — a city that was the capital of the Dutch East Indies and was located in what is now Jakarta — and stayed there for four years. During this time, he helped in the punishment of the residents of Seram Island, who earned the anger of the Dutch because they sold spices to other traders.
In 1637, Tasman returned to the Netherlands but stayed there only for a year. He went back to Batavia on 1638, this time bringing his wife with him. He stayed there until his death in 1659.
3. He Was The First European To Reach New Zealand And Tasmania
Because of several mapmaking mistakes, the people during Abel Tasman’s time believed that there was a province in Terra Australis (also known as the Southern Continent) that had a lot of gold. With this in mind, the council of the Indies sent Tasman, along with his assistant Franchoijs Visscher, on a voyage, to explore this province and learn more about it.
During this voyage, Tasman reached and sighted the western coast of Tasmania. He called this area Van Diemen’s Land, after Antonio van Diemen, who was the Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies at the time. He also caught sight of the northwestern coast of New Zealand’s South Island, which he named Staten Landt. However, Tasman and his men were attacked by Maoris when they tried to obtain water and even when they made it to land, forcing them to abandon their plans of claiming possession of the island.
4. He Visited Other Places During His Voyages
Abel Tasman became well-known for reaching Tasmania and New Zealand, but these weren’t the only places that he had visited in his lifetime. During his voyages, he made it to the Philippines and helped the Dutch learn more about the eastern coast of Luzon. He also visited Cambodia, Japan, Formosa, and Palembang (a large city on Sumatra Island).
5. A Lot Of Places Have Been Named After Him.
The East Indies council may not have been impressed by Tasman’s achievements, but his legacy lives on in the places that are named after him. These include the island of Tasmania, which has the Tasman Bridge, the Tasman Highway, and the Tasman Peninsula. Mount Tasman, Tasman Lake, the Tasman Sea, the Tasman Glacier, the Tasman District, and the Abel Tasman National Park are also named after the Dutch explorer.
Abel Tasman played a huge part in the discovery of Tasmania and New Zealand, and it’s important to recognize his contribution to the development of the Oceania region.